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The Success of Our Big Data World Depends on Risk and Compliance Leaders

According to IOT Analytics, the number of connected devices in use worldwide now exceeds 17 billion, with the number of IoT devices at 7 billion (that number does not include smartphones, tablets, laptops or fixed line phones). And those numbers are expected to keep increasing by at least 10% each year over the next five years. The amount of data we create collectively and individually each day is astounding. In fact, 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone!

Perhaps none of these statistics surprise anyone, given the fact that most people walk around with a computer in their pocket that with data speeds that will soon rival our desktops. However, the aspect that gives us pause in the field of risk and compliance is contemplating — and figuring out — how we can most effectively lead our organizations to navigate this brave (and insanely data rich) new world.

As a starting point, the answer lies in digital transformation. Converting big data into actionable insights will be the key to success for risk and compliance leaders — and organizations as a whole. But how will we get there, and what are the potential roadblocks along the way?

Big data is “the new world”

In some ways, operating in our big data landscape feels a little bit like navigating through undiscovered waters in search of “the new world.” Except the thing that may be “up for grabs” isn’t new land. It is people’s personal information, confidential business documents and transactions, and other intangible assets that threaten to become a company’s greatest liabilities if not properly safeguarded and managed.

Risk and compliance leaders have an incredible opportunity and a lot of their own risks to consider when taking on the huge task of getting control of their organizations’ data and helping other leaders — and people throughout the company — to use it for strategic advantage.

What’s the opportunity?

The data landscape presents risk and compliance leaders with tremendous responsibilities. By virtue of their positions alone, however, these leaders are also in the best possible roles to be catalysts for success in two key areas:

  • Controlling and managing the company’s data: Risk and compliance leaders hold a key role in making sure the right risk and compliance frameworks are put in place to create a wide and well-connected view of the business landscape across functions.  Those frameworks should allow for the responsible use of data to create new efficiencies, improved customer experience, decision making and profitability through digital transformation.
  • Monetizing data: Risk and compliance leaders sit at the intersection of how data is collected by an organization and how it is used. Through an analytical approach and in partnership with other leaders, risk and compliance professionals can make strategic recommendations about how to monetize data assets for the future. A good example of this would be the way that the auto insurance industry can now monitor driver behaviors that are collected from actual time on the road and use that data to inform pricing decisions.

Ethical considerations

When we discuss data control and monetization, there are many ethical considerations that arise which will vary among industry and organization. However, the bottom line consideration is that data can be used for many different purposes. The question is: how should data be used? And when shouldn’t a certain set or type of data be used at all?

Consider the use of AI in autonomous weapons or the impact of social manipulation that can happen through algorithmic targeting. Should AI be solely responsible for decisions in criminal cases? Where do we draw the line between intelligence that is helpful and additive and potentially harmful or devastating to individuals or society at large?

The path forward

For risk and compliance leaders, there is no single piece of advice that will lead to success in a digital world. But these leaders play a critical role in every area of their business — helping to create a framework that supports the use of big data while protecting their organization from the risks associated with utilizing these data sources. Risk and compliance leaders must make sure their organizations understand the risks and accountability associated with new technologies as they invest in digital business initiatives.

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