In the short space of a decade, quantum leaps in digital technology have transformed the modern business landscape. From big data, analytics and artificial intelligence to IoT, 3D printing and robotics, the tools that were once reserved for musings of science fiction writers have quickly become a reality. For increased agility, enhanced efficiency and a higher level of productivity throughout core industries, we have cutting-edge digital technology to thank. Processes have been simplified, services stream-lined and customers kept satisfied by constant innovation.
However, with fast-paced technological change comes greater risk. On the one hand, business leaders must be alert to the growing threat posed by cyber criminals: after all, as sophisticated as we may be in our security systems, the techniques used by malicious hackers have evolved as we have learned to protect ourselves.
It’s no surprise to see cyber security listed as one of the top five concerns of global CEO’s this year: following a string of high profile cyber-attacks in 2016 and 2017, most leaders have finally recognised the need for a robust security strategy that mitigates the risk of a data breach.
Ahead of cyber security, however, 42% of CEO’s listed over-regulation as a barrier blocking company growth – and it’s not hard to see why. In an increasingly complex environment, stakeholders expect firms to prioritise compliance in order to protect their organisation from risk. Of course, they’re right to do so: thanks to growing pressure from global movements, whistle blowers, investigative journalists and social media, the need for accountability is greater than ever. Today, a regulatory oversight can cost a company its reputation – not to mention significant financial damage. Failing to adhere to the codes of conduct set out by industry watchdogs and government bodies is a one-way ticket into regulatory hot water.
In this challenging climate, a strong ethics & compliance programme is a must – but this is no one-and-done activity. Rather than playing catch-up with compliance strategies, organisations must stay one step ahead by forming professional relationships with experts in the field. If executives are to take advantage of market opportunities amidst an increasingly complex regulatory landscape, they need to ensure policies are frequently updated to reflect new rules or cultural expectations. Of course, it isn’t sufficient to simply inform staff of these changes. Raising awareness through on-going compliance training can be beneficial in communicating the context of policy change, and leaders must ensure to engage employees on their responsibilities.
“With the rapid pace of innovation and technological change comes a more expansive and dynamic risk universe, including greater regulatory risk. Today’s compliance risk management requires more responsive and more predictive processes and monitoring, frequent updates to policies, ongoing training and communication, and high levels of efficiency in order to manage costs while expanding risk coverage.”