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Trend is your Friend – Creating Opportunities Through Risk Management


​​The easiest way to get the attention of Canadian board members and leaders is to emphasize risk trends relevant to their organizations. Some common hot topics identified at the recent Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) national meeting in Calgary that certainly caught the audience’s attention were disruptive technology, cyber security, IT governance, regulatory risk, and how to leverage big data. Below are some insights into those trends impacting businesses across Canada and globally.​​

Disruptive Technology: An ICD panel made up of Canadian chief executive officers suggested boards should send CEO’s on a six-month sabbatical to research risk mitigation in relation to disruptive technology, if the company was at risk of being impacted by disruptive technology. At the same time, the panel suggested using the CEO’s absence to test and groom his or her successor. Many leaders in Canada are concerned many jobs and companies will be replaced by disruptive technology within the next 20 years, and I agree. Disruptive technologies are a real threat to many organizations and MNP can help clients mitigate this risk by creating long-term strategies addressing change.

Cyber Security: The recent malware incident that shut down the University of Calgary’s IT systems showed how vulnerable any organization can be to hackers. Many companies have not addressed the risk in enough detail to know how to prioritize resource investment and optimize the most effective controls first.

IT Governance: The four most popular capability requirements in searches for new Canadian board members are industry Knowledge, financial expertise, risk management skill, and IT governance. Most boards do not have an IT expert and are always looking for assurance they are not missing a critical IT risk. As boards recruit these IT governance experts, they may also want help educating company leadership on what new information boards require to manage the risk effectively.

Regulatory Risk: By October 2017, approximately 54 regulated utility entities in Alberta will be expected to be in compliance to 10 new modified North American Electric Reliability (NERC) (version 5) critical infrastructure protection standards around cyber security. This is mandated by the Alberta Electric Service Operator. Many of these utilities are struggling to meet this deadline, and could benefit from a risk-based strategy to meet the compliance expectations.

Data Analytics: Virtually any time there is opportunity to extract material insight from data, there is an opportunity to leverage data analytics to a company’s benefit. However, most businesses not directly involved in data analytics are missing out on this potential, which can be part of both risk management and operational insight.

While the number of hot topics in enterprise risk management seem to be growing exponentially, sometimes the easiest place to win new opportunities is by keeping in mind the rhyme “Trend is your friend.”

About the author: Based in Calgary Richard Arthurs is MNP’s National Governance and Risk Management Leader. Richard has more than 25 years of experience assisting complex global organizations with their governance, risk management, internal audit, IT audit, data analytics, ethics and compliance needs. He has deep industry experience in the utilities / energy, consumer goods, technology, telecommunications, not-for-profit and public sectors.

To learn more, contact Rich​ard Arthurs at [email protected] or (587)-702-5978.