Did SONY Just Transform “The Interview” Cyber-Risk into Value?

We all witnessed “The Interview” cyber-incident in December: a hybrid diplomatic and corporate risk debacle messily unfolding on the global scene. Despite a number of fumbles, missteps, misinformation, recriminations, accusations, embarrassments and second-guessing and the fact that we still don’t know what really happened, this incident, however, could end up being an interesting example of a material risk transformed into an opportunity not only for good business but for something even more valuable – a reputational upside for SONY for upholding something universal and fundamental – freedom of expression.

Whether you like the movie or not, think of it as something in bad taste, high art (or something in between), it is clearly a piece of movie-making that should not be censored simply because of its content and simply because of cyber-threats whether they come from a “hostile” government or a disgruntled insider.

In this possible case (as we don’t yet know where the chips might fall) of transforming cyber-risk into business value, SONY, though a victim, has been displaying some of the nimbleness needed in this age of hyper-transparency to effectuate effective crisis management, risk management and opportunity management.

What started as an apparent cyber-intrusion, hacking, theft, with possible national security and/or corporate security implications, may now become an interesting model for cyber-risk and crisis management where the corporate victim, as in this case, deploys the tools of the social media age to counter-attack and even circumvent traditional business methodology (selling the movie to brick and mortar theatres, for example) and “invent” new ways to sell the product – through social media deals, mobilizing public opinion, etc.

Time will tell but the SONY “Interview” case seems to be an interesting and evolving case of a company facing a serious, even material, threat relatively quickly deploying and adopting alternative means to counteract the downside and maybe even gain a better upside than they might have originally in the absence of a cyber-attack. Now that’s what I would call transforming risk into value!

For more on this and related risk, reputation, strategy and crisis topics, please see the following resources:

  •  The Reputation Risk Handbook: Surviving and Thriving in the Age of Hyper-Transparency (DO Sustainability 2014): http://bit.ly/1mIWCrN
  • “Key Takeaways of Corporate Reputation Risk in 2014”, Wall Street Journal Interview with Andrea Bonime-Blanc, December 31, 2014: available here http://on.wsj.com/13JfdLmand here: http://bit.ly/1ctFvSh
  • “Reputation Risk, Crisis and Value Transformation”, NYSE Governance “Inside Compliance” Video Interview with Andrea Bonime-Blanc on the NYSE Trading Floor: http://bit.ly/1thopNJDecember 2014.
  • Andrea Bonime-Blanc, “Risk and Opportunity: The Role of Stakeholder Trust”. Ethical Corporation Magazine: http://bit.ly/1mPtXN7May 2014.
  • Andrea Bonime-Blanc, “Turn a Crisis to Your Advantage”. Ethical Corporation Magazinehttp://bit.ly/17aV3I9April 2013.

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