Woman viewing global research onscreen

Four ways to embrace emerging technology with a cybersecurity mindset

CIOs and CISOs can help their workforce embed cybersecurity into emerging technology with these four steps.

In brief
  • As employees and workforces look to adopt the latest technologies, leaders must carefully balance enablement with security.
  • This is accomplished by creating test environments, gauging employee technology use, simplification and upskilling, and routinely assessing effectiveness.

Emerging technologies like generative AI, digital twins and Web3 are rapidly evolving and transforming the workplace. Yet only one in five CISOs and C-suite executives consider their cybersecurity effective today and well-positioned for tomorrow, according to the latest EY Global Cybersecurity Leadership Insights study. On top of this, as these emerging technologies become more prevalent in an organization’s workforce, they’re opening new avenues or “surfaces” for cybersecurity threats like hacktivism and ransomware. CIOs and CISOs find themselves at a crossroads between empowering their workforce with innovative technologies and maintaining effective cybersecurity.

In the recent EY Emerging Tech at Work 2023 survey, 89% of employees surveyed said adopting emerging technologies is beneficial for their company, while 79% already consider themselves familiar with the emerging technologies shaping digital transformation today. However, employees also recognized that one of the primary barriers to adoption is cybersecurity risk, especially among more futuristic technologies like quantum computing (78% concerned) and generative AI (73% concerned).

While more than three quarters of those surveyed agreed that cybersecurity training for the various new technologies is important, about half reported that, ultimately, high cyber risk will not stop them from adopting emerging technology.

This poses the question: How can technology leaders enhance the employee experience with emerging tech while simultaneously embedding robust cybersecurity protocols?

Digital identity with man in digital torrent

Chapter 1

Get comfortable with pilot programs

Manage cybersecurity risk by testing new technologies in a safe, comprehensive way.

Knowing that employees are likely to forge ahead even without proactive security parameters, organizations that are winning the fight against cyber attacks say they are moving to adopt emerging technology quickly. Though it sounds counterintuitive, these organizations – called Secure Creators in our Global Cybersecurity Leadership Insights study – don’t wait for a new technology to be tried and tested by competitors or adjacent industries. Secure Creators set out a defined methodology and test in a safe, comprehensive way before deploying the technology throughout the enterprise. To further minimize risk and increase comfort levels, the pilot program can be designed to simulate the organization’s environment on a smaller scale.


When launching a pilot program, tech leaders should confirm that the proper guardrails are in place. For instance, generative AI has made headlines for hallucinations in which the AI model provides nonsensical or false information. That means a process for verifying outputs would be essential.

Many organizations also get caught in pilot purgatory because they lack a plan to scale.

With generative AI, have you designed a case pilot that considers authorization, encryption, session management, and container strategy? A Secure Creator moves swiftly, but also with care.

Man typing at his laptop computer at night

Chapter 2

Investigate new technologies in your workforce

Open the lines of communication to reduce cyber risks.


Is your greatest risk the complexity of your cyber strategy?

Organizations face mounting cybersecurity challenges. The EY 2023 Global Cybersecurity Leadership Insights Study reveals how leaders respond. Read more.

01 Oct 2023 Richard Watson + 1

    The EY Emerging Tech at Work study also found that employees are eager to adopt emerging technologies, with 23% of survey respondents claiming they currently use artificial intelligence/machine learning to automate repetitive tasks, and another 60% reporting that they are willing to use it for that purpose in the future. This high level of interest can have a positive impact on an organization, which can point to its embrace of emerging technologies as an effective recruitment and retention tool. Among the employees surveyed, roughly two out of three reported that they’ve stayed at their company because the business adopted emerging technologies (67% for digital twin and 60% for edge computing). A majority said they would even change industries to work at a company that embraces emerging technologies (66% for digital twin and 62% for quantum computing).


    The appeal of these powerful technologies is undeniable. That means CIOs and CISOs must engage in discussions with their employees about what they want to use or are already using. This may even uncover new use cases and experimentation methods that would inform the goals of new training and upskilling programs. Opening the lines of communication and enabling exploration can also keep employees from the use of shadow IT, which exposes the enterprise to enormous risk. Secure Creators don’t say “No” to emerging technologies. They say, “Yes,” and, “Here’s how we’re going to do it safely.”

    Man Walking Around Corner in Corridor

    Chapter 3

    Double down on simplification

    Embed cyber safeguards without sacrificing innovation and experience.

    Human error is the leading cause of cyber breaches, according to the EY Global Cybersecurity Leadership Insights study. That’s why upskilling is the best talent strategy to prepare for future cyber threats. Since an organization can’t put the genie back in the bottle and stop employees from experimenting with emerging technologies, CISOs and CIOs need to update cyber training without hindering newfound productivity or innovation. This is an opportunity for the security and IT teams that are often behind the scenes to step out from the back office and collaborate with the rest of the enterprise in a way that helps everyone.

    When upskilling employees, simplification should serve as the guiding principle. When the American philosopher Henry David Thoreau exhorted readers to “simplify, simplify,” he was addressing the general busy-ness of 19th-century American lives. Yet his advice still applies to 21st-century cybersecurity. Secure Creators reduce risk through simplification.

    Handsome Smiling IT Specialist Using Tablet Computer in Data Center. Succesful Businessman and e-Business Entrepreneur Overlooking Server Farm Cloud Computing Facility.

    Chapter 4

    Measure, reassess, and communicate

    Unleash the full power of new technologies backed by cybersecurity.

    Tech leaders face a difficult balancing act between sharing their vision for emerging technology while keeping a pulse on their workforce. Successful organizations have CIOs and CISOs who understand that technology innovation and new tech adoption go together with change management. Measuring success not only means looking at implementation and utilization rates, but also how well the status of new IT projects is being communicated to the end users or “consumers” of that technology.

    When done effectively, cybersecurity has positive impacts on an organization. By integrating cybersecurity into emerging technologies, an enterprise can innovate with confidence, focusing on new ideas and use cases instead of potential risks. Secure Creators don’t just protect value. They add value.


    The new technologies are here. The new technologies are powerful. The new technologies are already changing the way businesses work. To count themselves among the Secure Creators, CIOs and CISOs must be enablers of these emerging technologies. Only then will their employees see them as trusted partners in innovation.

    About this article

    Related articles

    Emerging tech in the enterprise: How to catch up to your “consumers”

    Employees are the consumers of emerging tech at work. How well are CIOs and CTOs listening to their wants and needs? Read now.

    02 Aug 2023 Faisal Alam + 1

    Is the future of your tech stack built on the foundation of your people?

    Senior leaders often show reluctance to adopt emerging technologies and communicate poorly with others, an EY survey shows. Find out more.

    12 Jun 2023 Faisal Alam + 1

      Contact us