What are the top emerging risks and blind spots for digital companies?

3 min read
May 5, 2022

With so many of us spending an increasing amount of time online – whether that be to work, interact with friends and family, or purchase products and services – companies that chiefly operate in this space face new risks and opportunities: emerging risks.

Several of these emerging risks remain uncertain in terms of their impact and likelihood, but how serious are they, and what are digital companies doing in order to manage them?

We've benchmarked a number of global online companies for an in-depth report for members of our network, to identify the key emerging risks on their radar and to highlight blind spots. The findings from the report are summarised below:

Key emerging risk themes

While dozens of emerging risks have been captured during this benchmarking, five major trends stood out from the crowd.

  1. Attraction and retention of talent
  2. Monetising data
  3. Overcoming legacy issues
  4. Ensuring diversity and inclusion
  5. Planning for climate change

The attraction and retention of talent, which is becoming an increasing challenge for businesses as the number of online companies expands, while also the ability to work from anywhere in the world puts new pressures on companies’ recruitment strategies.

Also highlighted in the report is the issue of data, which presents both opportunities and risks for organisations. Many companies are monetising the data they capture by selling it to their clients, but the increasingly complicated regulatory situation with regards to both privacy and data ownership is making this a growing area of focus for online businesses.

Download the full report

In March 2022, we released a report, Emerging risks in high growth digital companies to assess the key risks that a cross-section of global online companies – ranging in market capitalisation from US$1.6bn to $88bn – are currently monitoring, as well as to highlight the blind spots these organisations have. 

The report was created in response to member requests, who wanted more insight on what this sector of risk leaders were monitoring.

Download it here >>Risk Leadership Network combination logo_RGB


Potential blind spots

But could these high growth digital companies have some blind spots?

We used our Horizon Scanning Tool to identify 5 emerging risks that are highlighted by the broader market, but were not identified during our research for the Emerging risks in high growth digital companies report.

  1. Macroeconomic
  2. Health, safety and security
  3. Supply and demand
  4. Societal
  5. Catastrophic events and business interruptions

One of these categories was health, safety and security. Although this is an area of risk that is usually associated with more industrial companies, there are still the effects of digital spaces on mental health, as well as the physical impacts on employees of spending too much time in front of a screen, to consider as emerging risks.

Another key blind spot for digital companies, as the results of our benchmark report suggest, could be catastrophic events and business interruption – although we like to think that the internet can survive any kind of disaster, these types of events do have an impact on employees and the day-to-day operations of an online company and so they can represent a significant risk many digital companies may be blind to.

There's more information on each of the blind spots when you download the full report.

Horizon Scanning Tool

Horizon Scanning Tool

Risk Leadership Network's Horizon Scanning Tool is a unique interactive dashboard that allows us to create a global emerging risk taxonomy.

Using four years of publicly available information on emerging risks, sourced from more than 45 industry, government and not-for-profit reports, as well as company annual reports, Risk Leadership Network Horizon Scanning Tool generates an extensive list of emerging risk events that you can sort by sector and region.

Request Demo >> 


A reminder of extra resources available:

1. Full report: Emerging risks in high growth digital companies
This pdf report is based on in-depth interviews with leading high growth digital firms, created for Risk Leadership Network members:
Download the full report

2. Horizon Scanning Tool
This interactive dashboard creates a bottom-up taxonomy of emerging risk. It is available exclusively to Risk Leadership Network members, but you can see a video of the tool in action and request a demo on the same page.

3. Emerging Risk Maturity Model
A complete iterative process to develop risk leaders' emerging risk maturity, developed in response to the priorities of Risk Leadership Network members. See our explainer video and find out how you can get involved.

4. Emerging Risk: how are businesses managing their blind spots?
View our feature-length article on emerging risk for free.

Risk Leadership Network is a global corporate membership network for risk leaders and their teams. We enable practical knowledge sharing and collaboration between peers that empowers risk leaders to drive progressive risk management in their organisations. Find out more about membership here.


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