Do compli­ance offi­cers now need to learn how to program?

Rita Pikó focuses on the effects that the digital transformation is having on compliance. She says that compliance needs to go hand in hand with the digitalisation of business processes.

The Philanthropist: There’s hardly a sector or level of the economy that’s not been affec­ted by digi­ta­li­sa­tion, and the non-profit sector is no diffe­rent. How does this affect compliance?

Rita Pikó: There are some sectors, like the insu­rance sector, which have almost comple­ted their digi­tal jour­ney. As a result, the compli­ance proces­ses that apply to these products have been digi­ta­li­sed at the same time along with this. A compli­ance offi­cer, or the compli­ance depart­ment, is no longer really in the posi­tion to be able to ‘manu­ally’ check or moni­tor these auto­ma­ted proces­ses retro­s­pec­tively. As a result, the compli­ance team should be invol­ved in the digi­ta­li­sa­tion of a busi­ness area from the off: it’s the only way to make sure that the algo­rithms are programmed in a suita­bly compli­ance-focu­sed fashion.

How does this change a compli­ance officer’s tasks?

In short, compli­ance offi­cers need to under­stand the digi­ta­li­sed busi­ness and digi­ta­li­sed proces­ses. Only once they’ve done that can they deter­mine which legal issues are likely to be connec­ted to this, like confi­den­tia­lity, data protec­tion, anti-trust, discri­mi­na­tion, etc.

Can you give us an example?

Let’s say that a company is digi­ta­li­sing steps of its appli­ca­tion progress, passing respon­si­bi­lity for making certain decis­i­ons onto algo­rithms. It is important that these algo­rithms are programmed to take into account certain requi­re­ments, such as data protec­tion and equality.

Do compli­ance offi­cers now need to learn how to program?

There’s no doubt that being curious about chan­ges, and remai­ning open-minded towards them, really helps. But they don’t need to learn how to program. It is possi­ble to build a bridge to the tech­ni­cal side of things by having a person in the team who acts as a sort of ‘trans­la­tor’ between compli­ance and IT. Some compa­nies are alre­ady hand­ling this very well in practice.

Will the digi­tal trans­for­ma­tion also bring bene­fits for compliance?

Abso­lut­ely! Entire compli­ance proces­ses can be opti­mi­sed, for exam­ple, in connec­tion with provi­ding advice or answe­ring gene­ral compli­ance-rela­ted ques­ti­ons. Chat bots can handle all that auto­ma­ti­cally. The use of big data is another exam­ple. Evalua­ting huge quan­ti­ties of data rela­ting to busi­ness proces­ses can gene­rate new findings for compli­ance. This enables orga­ni­sa­ti­ons to iden­tify compli­ance risks quicker and in a more targe­ted manner, and to respond to them accor­din­gly. In addi­tion, hand­ling compli­ance digi­tally enables some aspects to be visua­li­sed more quickly and easily, which also boosts the quality of compli­ance. Ulti­m­ately, digi­ta­li­sing stan­dar­di­sed compli­ance tasks enables the compli­ance offi­cer or compli­ance depart­ment to focus on the most important and most central points. These are just a few aspects of how digi­ta­li­sa­tion can be used to the bene­fit of compliance.

What does this mean for non-profit organisations?

I see the process of digi­ta­li­sa­tion as provi­ding criti­cally important assis­tance for hand­ling compli­ance in the future, inclu­ding at non-profit organisations.

Event note — Save the Date
On July 1, 2020, ZHAW and StiftungSchweiz orga­nise a confe­rence on «Compli­ance at Foun­da­ti­ons and Asso­cia­ti­ons» in Winter­thur. Further infor­ma­tion to follow.

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