As a managerial and compliance professional, your primary responsibilities are the development of your organisation’s regulatory framework. Organisations must adhere to rules and regulations to ensure that breaches are minimised. Compliance Officers are expected to have detailed knowledge of any regulatory change. Following the many disruptions in 2020, there is a greater emphasis on remaining agile and dynamic while introducing new systematic updates to be ahead of current thinking or trends.

Notable trends arose from the significant changes in the previous year’s business operations, and industry experts anticipate that these will continue. Five key trends that Compliance Officers need to pay attention to in 2021 include:

  1. Third-Party Risks and Supply Chain

There were unforeseen consequences for organisations that failed to adequately mitigate risks and hazards introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the world of business, commercial contracts were derailed and, in some instances, broken due to an organisation’s inability to meet contractual obligations and compliance requirements. Compliance Officers will need to take on greater risk management responsibilities. Moreover, they would need to consider fusing these disciplines through merging departments and organisational roles. To effectively do so, Compliance Officers would need to work closely with risk management to understand risk better and create more fit-for-purpose regulatory policies and frameworks.

  1. Data Privacy and Regulatory Compliance

The heightened awareness regarding data privacy laws is set to continue strongly, given its momentum in 2020. The European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into effect in 2018 as a major and more comprehensive regulation that guides the proper usage of data, setting the tone for change and better understanding around the need to protect personal and sensitive information. In South Africa, the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) enters into full force on July 1, 2021. It aims to promote the protection of personal information in South Africa and aligns the country with global data protection best practices.

  1. Regulatory Changes

The events of 2020 have been crucial determinants of regulatory direction this year. As has occurred in the past, periods following a crisis are characterised by the onset of new regulations. The continuing COVID-19 crisis has introduced new ways of managing health protocols, procurement practices, business models, and technology use. Studies report that recent disaster and health-related regulations have been implemented or amended.

  1. Increase in Ethical Issues and Behavioural Changes

According to a World Bank report, the global economy is expected to expand by 4% this year, and as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is widespread throughout. This turnaround comes within the context of tremendous death and illness, financial despair and difficult remote work conditions. One of the biggest challenges that Ethics and Compliance Officers have identified is securing employee buy-in and commitment to proper ethical behaviour.

  1. Increase in Technology Use and Process Automation

Technology has already effected significant change. Compliance Officers will need to have technology-related skills as well as conventional compliance skill sets. It is important to note, as highlighted by The Gartner Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021 report, that most organisational assets and devices are physically located outside traditional logical security parameters as people continue remote work. Hyperautomation – the use of advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to automate tasks once completed by human beings – will irreversibly and inevitably be employed.

At XGRC Software, our range of integrated systems solutions are specifically created to drive corporate compliance, sustainability and performance in your organisation. Our Integrated Management System (MSX) combines all organisational systems into a common cohesive framework that ensures business excellence and continual improvement. It is a particularly beneficial management solution for Compliance Officers to use to contextualise information into broader trends of compliance activity, allowing for a more methodological and analytical approach to managing compliance.

This article will outline a few benefits to gaining an ISO 27001 certification.

  1. Risk assessment:

Before new security procedures can be created, a risk assessment is required. A risk evaluation will demonstrate where the vital security vulnerabilities and future risks are, ensuring the company can implement steps to minimise threats.

  1. Stakeholders peace of mind:

It requires a lot of time, commitment, and coordination between teams to develop a sound security system. When embarking on the certification process, it would be best to get assistance first from the company’s management, thereby ensuring that all parties recognise the value of information management and their role in the detection and risk prevention of fraudulent conduct. Stakeholders want to know that the company they have invested in has the necessary management systems to protect their interests.

  1. Identification of security risks:

Once the research and an internal audit are conducted to identify security risks, auditors will be more likely to inspect areas of weakness. This process allows for the mitigation of threats and the creation of efficient cybersecurity policies.

An integrated information security management system will enable your company to gain a competitive advantage and maintain legal compliance. With these benefits in mind, it remains crucial for business operations to continuously assess business risks and invest in policies that will protect data.