Executives in technology, media and telecommunications companies also worry about intellectual property and patent infringement, and competition and anti-trust law scrutiny, survey finds

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Regulatory fines and penalties arising from data protection breaches is the biggest concern for executives in the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) sector, according to new research by Willis Towers Watson.

The TMT Risk Index 2016 surveyed 350 industry executives to reveal that the top three risks for the industry are: data protection fines and penalties; intellectual property and patent infringement; and competition and anti-trust law scrutiny.

In addition, data protection fines and penalties, and intellectual property and patent infringement were ranked as the top two risks facing the industry in the coming 12 months.

Cyber attacks did not make it into the top three risks for the TMT industry overall, but ranked number one for the technology sector. But Willis Towers Watson said cyber vulnerabilities can exacerbate other risks such as those leading to data protection fines and penalties.

The global research found that TMT organisations’ top risk differs based on where in the world they are based. In North America, TMT executives worried most about the threat of consumer product legislation and lawsuits, while in Asia Pacific, executives identified uncompetitive compensation and reward schemes as the top risk.

Sara Benolken, head of TMT global industry at Willis Towers Watson, said: “In an industry marked by exciting innovation and disruptive business strategies, it’s important to understand both a present-day view of the risks facing the technology, media and telecommunications sector and gain foresight into the future.

“For us and our clients, risk is a path to growth. It is through the proper identification and management of these risks that companies are able to take on more risk and ultimately realise new commercial opportunities. We trust the findings will enable TMT organisations to successfully acknowledge and address current challenges as well as prepare for the future.”