“By simply trying to keep up with individual compliance requirements, organisations become rule followers, rather than risk leaders,” said John A. Wheeler, research director at Gartner. “CIOs must stop being rule followers who allow compliance to dominate business decision making and become risk leaders who proactively address the most severe threats to their enterprises.”
Risk leaders evaluate anticipated compliance risks by tracking key regulatory and business changes. They then create a plan to address compliance requirements in a strategic and proactive manner that improves resilience and influences their business's success.
Mr Wheeler added that, too often, organisations still treat compliance activities as a checkbox exercise, with little regard for the related risks they are intended to address. “Organisations must change this reactive, check-the-box mindset and start viewing compliance as a risk,” said Mr Wheeler.
In this way, organisations are relying more on their own risk assessments to guide their implementation of controls rather than the "classic" compliance approach of implementing mandated controls regardless of the anticipated risk severity or impact. “If CIOs are managing their risks effectively, their compliance requirements will be met, and not the other way round,” added Mr Wheeler.
Given today's proliferation of regulatory mandates, it is challenging for organisations to develop a more forward-looking, adaptive approach. CIOs are often distracted by their efforts to keep up with specific regulations. This needs to stop. “They must create a formal and defensible programme of controls based on the specific situation and risks unique to their business,” said Mr Wheeler. “The rules and laws should then be mapped into the controls that have been proactively selected, and a defensible case should be made that the laws are being appropriately addressed.”
When treated in this manner, compliance becomes simply another category of risk that is addressed as an exercise in control mapping and defensibility. CIOs should work with their security and risk management teams to build a formal programme that can adapt to the changing landscape of regulatory requirements and that protects the organisation from anticipated risks.