Impact of Information & Communications Technology - Strategies to Mitigate Challenges
By Lim Sek Seong, VP, Marsh Risk Consulting
In today’s ultra-competitive global market, companies and organizations need to leverage on Information and Communications Technology (ICT), including electronic and mobile commerce, in order to remain competitive and viable. Digital media platforms facilitate information sharing with internal and external parties. Many companies also depend significantly on ICT to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
Technology Enabler for Competitiveness & Compliance
Organizations involved in global trade need to comply with local and international trade and customs regulations. Many of these organizations leverage on electronic commerce to improve productivity, facilitate tracking, and enhance efficiency of transactions. Also, a lot of shipping, logistics, and warehousing firms use ICT extensively to optimise shipment routes, track movements and execute delivery. Trade credit and payment transactions constitute the other part of the electronic commerce ecosystem supporting the global business value and supply chain. These firms and their business partners, including financial institutions, depend on analytics and big data as part of the risk management practices to comply with local and international regulatory requirements. These requirements were enacted to counter money laundering, fraud and terrorism financing.
Schools and universities also leverage on eLearning platforms to complement classroom based learning. A majority of the healthcare institutions have implemented healthcare information management systems, for example, wearable healthcare technology, in order to provide real-time patient monitoring. This helps in improving the quality and accuracy of patient information collection. This helps in facilitating more accurate diagnostics and analytics, and consequently, advancing healthcare services.
Key Benefits for Organizations
ICT has enabled organisations of varying scales to trade efficiently and competitively in the international markets. Several goods of different natures
For the educational institutions, eLearning has provided an exceptional medium for individualised learning. It has also enabled these institutions to expand the student population without having to proportionately enlarge teaching facilities and staff. Healthcare providers now offer better healthcare for patients through the efficient sharing of patient information that provides them with a complete understanding of the patients’ condition. This has also potentially minimized the litigation costs and regulatory fines.
ICT Resilience Supports Organizational Resilience
Transactions supporting global trade and financing has become too complex for institutions to rely on employees to monitor, track and analyse. Fortunately for firms, developments within the computing and the telecommunications technologies have progressed significantly in recent years. This provides the technology resilience needed to sustain business commerce. One such technology is commonly referred to as Cloud Computing. Cloud Computing consists of part or all of the following: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Many multinational corporations have partially or fully adopted Cloud Computing technology. These organizations may consist of both private and public cloud services – commonly referred to as hybrid cloud. Many among both the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have also embraced Cloud Computing technology to propel their business into the global market.
Potential Challenges and Mitigation Strategies
Many firms have delegated the responsibilities to manage the risks associated with technology to the Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). Businesses are right in understanding the overall risk of a major ICT outage and cyber-attack may be minimized through outsourcing and Cloud Computing, as well as installing Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS). However, most of the organizations have overlooked the need to have an effective data (information) protection strategy – including information stored and transmitted.
Business leaders should be ever more careful and periodically assess the potential impact caused by a major disruption and/or cyber-attack. This assessment should include both the loss of computer processing capabilities and data. From this, firms usually realize that an ICT or cyber catastrophe threatens the survivability of the organization which helps them stay ahead of any disaster befalling on them. An ICT disaster recovery plan, integrated with business continuity and crisis management plans should form integral components of the risk mitigation strategy. The impact assessment approach should be holistic to enable organizations to prioritize control measures and critical resources.