Automating Compliance to Ease Regulatory Headaches
Big data and artificial intelligence are taking the grunt work out of regulatory compliance procedures.
In an increasingly connected world, keeping business-critical IT systems and sensitive data secure and private is exponentially more complex. Just thinking about how the proliferation of IoT devices increases the general attack surface is enough to give any responsible IT pro a headache. There’s a lot at stake for companies when it comes to keeping systems secure and data private, so enterprises hold their security teams to very high standards.
To complicate matters, living up to these standards isn’t necessarily enough. Regulatory requirements imposed by governmental bodies mean that not only do enterprises need to keep everything safe and secure to their own satisfaction, they also need to act in very specific ways and—crucially—demonstrate that they have done so. Keeping all the stakeholders satisfied in this chain of responsibility and accountability. Now that’s a headache.
So how does one ease these symptoms? Firstly, here’s a mantra that might be calming: Everything technology complicates, it can also simplify. In other words, at the same rate that developing technologies make compliance more complex, they also present smart new ways to simplify the process. Technology hasn’t delivered a compliance panacea and it probably never will. But many of today’s tech trends present significant opportunities for simplifying compliance.
The Future is Automated
Automation is one of the main technology trends driving digital transformation. A cornerstone of DevOps culture, for instance, is to automate common processes wherever possible. Key compliance processes are already commonly automated, to an extent. For example, systems designed to secure access to infrastructure, applications or APIs will often create an audit trail of user interactions, which can be necessary for demonstrating regulatory compliance.
Raw data of this sort is not always enough. Often, to prevent nefarious behavior or demonstrate that precautions have been take to prevent it, patterns of behavior and significant episodes must be identified. This is where leading-edge technologies come in—developments in big data and artificial intelligence can make identifying these patterns and episodes much simpler, allowing compliance professionals to focus more on larger, strategic concerns.
Knowledge Jobs vs. Grunt Work
A Harvard Business Review article from last year identified compliance as one of the knowledge jobs most likely to be automated, arguing: “Compliance is ripe for automation because it is both rule-based and data-intensive.” And indeed—as the article points out— particularly compliance-burdened sectors like financial services are already turning to emerging tech to automate labor-intensive and complex tasks.
The HBR article suggests automation is mostly useful for the laborious side of things and human input is still required to make judgement calls. A more recent Compliance Week article points out that the latest AI tech is increasingly able to use machine learning to put data in context and weed out false positives. So, while compliance systems may not yet be able to make truly intelligent decisions, they are cutting out more and more of the “grunt work”.