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Compliance, Technology and Data Analytics

Compliance professionals cannot do it alone. Of course, CCOs need compliance staff and the collaboration of business, human resources, legal, financial and audit, and related functions in order to succeed. I have made this point over and over (again and again).

Along with human and functional resources, CCOs need to embrace technology and data analytics. I have written about the importance of technology to the compliance function. We have seen a rapid increase in the development of technology solutions for compliance professionals, particularly with respect to compliance dashboards, third party risk management platforms, and internal investigation management programs.

CCOs who embrace technology have greater access to metrics and monitoring data. In the end, CCOs who understand the importance of technology are more productive and have greater job satisfaction. Technology is an important means to collect data, monitor performance, and increase communications with compliance staff, business participants in a compliance program, and facilitate compliance operations.

For example, internal investigations and incident management systems have been developed to permit entry of information by corporate managers and employees responsible for reporting investigations and incidents into a databases where such data is stored, and organized for monitoring and reporting purposes. Companies can use this technology to keep track of internal investigations but collect and maintain important incident information that may not rise to the level of an internal investigation.

As part of the technology and compliance movement, CCOs have yet to embrace the capabilities of data analytics. Mature and sophisticated compliance programs with substantial resources have been utilizing data analytics to promote compliance.

Just like the compliance technology industry, we are likely to see growth in accessible and user-friendly data analytics programs. A compliance program generates significant data across the company. The data can be classified and divided on a number of fronts. It can also be linked to financial expenditures relating to certain key functions (e.g. gifts, meals and entertainment).

Data analytics can provide important insights into business activities in select categories and geographic areas. As data is collected, the analytical function can identify important trends, red flags and point to areas that should be scrutinized.

A data analytic program organizes large amounts of data, which by itself can be reviewed and understood through presentation modules that allow compliance professionals to understand patterns and trends and understand ongoing business activities.

In addition to organizing data, mixing compliance analysis with financial transactions can explain important financial activity and determine whether these activities are captured by the compliance controls.

Hopefully, we will see an increased effort to make data analytics easily accessible for compliance professionals. It may take years for such programs to operate like “plug-ins” for other computer programs but I am aware of various efforts in this area.

Compliance officers have numerous challenges in terms of subject-matter expertise outside of compliance. An understanding of the law, financial accounting systems, and technology are just a few to consider. When it comes to leveraging resources, and given the typical corporate resistance to assign more personnel, technology is an excellent resource to consider, along with data analytics and other systems that enhance efficiency and improve overall understanding of a company’s compliance environment.

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