COMPLIANCE AND INNOVATION: FRIENDS OR FOES
Today, the world is emerging as a global village and businesses are breaking barriers to operate in other countries. Globalization has been the greatest driving force since the last decade to ensure companies are seamlessly integrating into different regions. While Globalization has its benefits, it also comes with its own set of limitations. For businesses to succeed internationally, it is imperative for them to stay compliant Locally. Compliance has been traditionally viewed as hard, uninteresting or cumbersome work, going on as it is for ages without much transformation.
However, in the face of rapid transformation and digital disruption, perhaps one of the greatest risk organizations face is the failure to innovate. With the advent of the next big things in the corporate world – Innovation and Intelligent Enterprise we are often plagued by the thought ‘How does one bring Innovation to Compliance’ or ‘what role can Globalization play in creating an Intelligent Enterprise’. On the one hand one needs to be a disrupter, and on the other Compliance is an area where people cannot play around much and burn their fingers. You need to have a deep understanding of the rules and regulations of the industry you operate in to know what things are broken and what needs to be fixed. Surely Compliance isn’t as sexy a word as Disrupter is, but in reality, compliance is the foundation we need to hold everything together, and eventually, find opportunities where we can push for change. These are conflicting thoughts, which brings us to the next big question. Are Compliance and Innovation mutually exclusive? Is there a middle ground where they can meet?
To answer this question, first let’s get away from the thought that Compliance is a BIG ROCK WALL, which of course it is, however, we still have a chance of removing those bricks here and there, and plugin what we need, keeping the foundation of the wall as it is.
If we simply focus on the WHAT and HOW of a typical compliance cycle, we can narrowly see those gaps where we can place out brightly colored bricks of Innovation.
The natural order of things many years up to now was first comes, (i) the technology or business, (ii) then discussions and debates of ethics, safety and the need for law or monitoring, and (iii) then regulation from the Government. Usually this process would give an extended time window for the company to comply with such law.
However, the scenario has totally changed now, today the lightning speed of digital transformation can leave the government behind very quickly, so in order to be at the pace, the government has to roll out new regulations very rapidly. This leaves companies in a never-ending catch-up game trying to find out about these new regulations, requirements, and deadlines. Can we design a solution that would work as watchdog monitoring any change in government regulations and be able to constantly update our business? There are endless possibilities for filling these gaps, or maybe a cloud-based platform which would serve as a one-stop-shop for all regulatory content from different sources, which can be directly fed into business email/message/ alerts. This would ensure that relevant information reaches the subscriber in real-time. This is an example of how Compliance can drive Innovative Thinking.
Compliance is simply making sure you follow rules, however, what’s tricky here is the implementation of the rules. Usually, when and where industries are not prepared to comply with the ever-changing regulations, that’s where Innovation can come in.
Regulation is not a readymade handy solution that can be rolled out. When a difficult (but necessary) regulation is put in place, companies are forced to think out of the box and even work together. That is the point where we can plug in our innovative solution, which would meet the regulation. If the solution works for one business, it could work for all the businesses operating in that sector.
Finding the right balance between innovation and regulation is no easy task, but the trick is to adhere to regulation and then innovate and then validate that innovation. As Demosthenes said “Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises”, it is the small areas where we should focus, one step at a time, which would go a long way in creating the culture of innovation in compliance.