No matter the industry, size, or scope, every business has to be wary of the f-word: fraud. We know virtually any department from marketing to HR is vulnerable, and the extra scrutiny typically targets finance and accounting — think embezzlement, payroll fraud, or fictitious revenue. But with the exponential growth of IT budgets‚ this unassuming area has become ripe for liabilities.
A top interim CIO from InterimExecs RED Team who has led complex IT turnarounds for Fortune 500 companies shares the warning signs of IT fraud and how to mitigate the risks.
The financial services sector has undergone significant changes in recent years.
Banks used to look at technology with hostility. According to fintech and payments expert, Peter Tapling, “five years ago, if we were to have this conversation, I would have told you that the banks look at fintech as a very much us versus them – whatever they do is stuff that we could do.”
They saw fintech companies as competitors who could take business away from them. These days however, today’s financial institutions are now eager to embrace fintech. Tapling, who spent 15 years as CEO of authentication provider, Authentify, before advising a range of financial services companies, says that the industry is “shifting a lot” and integral to this mindset move is that financial institutions are ready to partner with fintech companies so they can offer new services and penetrate new markets.
Looking at the rationale behind this, Tapling talks about the difficulty around large organizations building brand new bank initiatives. To that end he mentions, “if you look at the way we do development these days, fail fast, build something small, minimum viable product, that’s not the way a big bank works.” Instead, banks look to partnerships to fill in that gap.
Whether your category is eCommerce, automotive, health care or anything in between, to stay ahead in today’s marketplace, every company now has to also double as a technology company. The role of technology in business impacts everything from website user experience and cybersecurity to inventory management and data reporting, each vital in helping a business scale and succeed more efficiently.
“Most companies can and do manage their money and people, which is a necessity,” says Chief Information Officer (CIO) David Mitchelhill. “But unfortunately, quite often they abstain from understanding the technology, which is basically the IP of their company. If you think of a company as a building, the people you need to design the building so that it will stand up to every storm are totally different from the people who run it on a daily basis. Companies need to hire the architects.”
But navigating a force this disruptive requires strategy that isn’t just efficient, goal-oriented, and competitive, but flexible enough to adapt with rapid changes, too. So we asked Mitchelhill and fellow CIO Kevin Malover to break down the components of a technology roadmap, the value of an outsider’s perspective, and why staying agile is the key to success.
There are plenty of new challenges to keeping a company afloat while the world endures the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. Here are just a few:
- Applying for government assistance to keep paying payroll.
- Developing a work-from-home system for employees following stay-at-home orders.
- Working out accommodations and new digital venues with customers and suppliers that will help everyone come through a cataclysmic crisis still in business.
Add to the list a new one: Cyber security threats to business.
InterimExecs RED Team executive and CISO, Zeeshan Kazmi, says times like these are prime for opportunistic hackers.
Just look at financial technology company, Finastra, to see a cyber security nightmare in action. After coronavirus hit, the company was in the middle of developing an emergency plan to operate when hackers found a backdoor into their servers. Malware quickly spread locking down server after server on their network, taking down many of their customers which include 90 of the world’s top 100 banks.
“We haven’t taken cyber security threats as seriously as they should be taken,” says Kazmi, who has spent 15 years working in the cyber security space. “Companies have been reactive. They protected their business transactions and their reputation. It became a corporate risk management function.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in ways that seemed
unimaginable just a short time ago. Within a matter of weeks schools have been
shuttered, sporting events and conferences have been canceled, air travel has
ground to a halt, over 16 million workers have been laid off, and those able to
work from home are now doing so almost exclusively.
Commentators are already proclaiming that coronavirus will
permanently change the world. Many of the expected shifts, however, are hardly
new. They were nascent prior to coronavirus and emerging stronger than ever due
to the pandemic-led paradigm shift.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the migration to remote
work and the technologies that enable it. In the United States almost a quarter
of employed individuals already were working remotely, and
while this trend has steadily increased over the past decade, with coronavirus
forcing millions to work remotely, we may have reached a tipping point.
If remote work is indeed the new normal, how can businesses embrace it? Alonso Vargas and Andrew Andrews-Ramirez provide digital transformation, helping organizations with everything from ERP implementation to outsourcing, to migrating to cloud technology, utilizing platforms including NetSuite, SAP, Salesforce, Hubstaff, and Office 365. They have seen a shift in how organizations are operating and have keen insights into how companies can get ahead in the digital curve.
Jen Giacchino was working as a recruiter in tech and every company seemed to be facing the same hurdle: how to hire women and with diversity, build an even stronger team. “Before I was a recruiter I just assumed there was a lot of gender bias in the hiring process, but when I got there I realized that a lot of these companies are desperate to hire women, and I saw that there were not a lot of women in the pipeline to be hired,” Jen says.
After volunteering with an after-school program for girls taking computer science classes, she realized that many of these young girls in seventh and eighth grade had a high aptitude toward learning tech programs but were lacking in confidence. As technology is actively impacting more and more of our daily lives from how we engage with communities and family, to how we perceive ourselves through social media, something had to change.
Jen dove into research and began engaging with the community to see what could be done. She ultimately teamed up with two other women, Dr. Emily Harburg and Anna Bethune, who were both passionate about closing the gender gap and empowering girls in tech. Emily and Anna were also concurrently pursuing PhDs looking at challenges from how to develop a confidence mindset in girls around technology to how best to integrate technology into education systems when kids don’t have prior access.
Technology is the most disruptive force in the business world today. It transforms everything that it touches, creating new opportunities while at the same time threatening incumbents and late-adopters.
Futurist Peter Diamandis describes the technology paradox in the following way: “Entrepreneurs will create more wealth in the next decade, than we have in the entire past century. We’ll also experience the reinvention of every industry. Understanding how to navigate accelerating technological change is essential for every leader. The problem with such dazzling change is that most people fear the future, rather than being excited by it. And fear is a terrible mindset from which to create and leverage the opportunities ahead.”
InterimExecs recently held a webinar with Chief Information Officers (CIOs) David Mitchelhill and Kevin Malover about how you should be thinking about technology and your business strategy as we enter 2020. Among the topics discussed were ways to navigate disruption to stay competitive, the value of outside viewpoints in technology, when to pursue new technology versus maximizing current assets, and balancing the fear of change with the fear of falling behind.
In the tsunami of digital transformation, it has dawned on boards that disruptive technologies pose not only a great opportunity, but also bring inherent risks. New technologies bring great promise to help businesses grow, improve efficiencies, and seize new markets. On the other hand, when an organization decides to embrace new technologies, they will come face-to-face with new business models and regulations that are unlike what they have ever seen before.
Boards may not be fully equipped to face the onslaught and speed at which new technologies are infiltrating the business sector. In fact, according to the 2018–2019 NACD Private Company Governance Survey, 80% of directors say that boards need to expand their knowledge of the challenges and risks of emerging technologies.
“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another”, says Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Innovation has been accelerating for the past 300 years, but with today’s pace of technological advances, Schwab says the speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. We are now entering a 4th Industrial Revolution where when compared to previous industrial revolutions, we are evolving at an exponential rate rather than linear rate.
Schwab describes: “The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”
IT department leaders are usually left out of the early M&A meetings during the pre-merger or pre-acquisition phase. “IT systems integration” discussions do not include IT managers until it’s too late. This phenomenon is all too common when it comes to understanding the full scope of IT priorities and what each organization brings to the tech table to ensure successful M&A experience for employees and customers.
According to the 2018 Deal Value Curve Study, only 19% of M&A professionals surveyed believed there was sufficient due diligence on IT systems and assets before a merger or acquisition. This pitfall may stem from the fact that decision makers do not fully grasp the complexity of IT. Worse yet, they may fail to realize just how dependent the organization’s business goals are with IT systems.
Surprisingly, IT system integration is not top of mind during M&A discussions. That’s detrimental for two reasons: