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The age of stupidity
Wednesday, 04 July 2012 06:50
Written by Patricia Pieterse
Business as usual is no longer good enough
“Corporate thinking has to change,” said Judge Mervyn King, chairman of the King Committee on Corporate Governance in South Africa. He was speaking recently at the PwC E-Diligence Conference
In the 21st century, the company has changed, he said. “We have to change our mindsets. And if we have to change all that, we have to think about changing our information systems and IT.”
He said the world is experiencing financial crises, climate change and the social revolution: “So it’s not too difficult to come to the conclusion that if you carry on business as usual in that context, welcome to the age of stupidity.”
The only way companies can survive is to adapt and take advantage of technological change, said King. “You’ve got to learn to make more with less. And the way it’s going to happen is in fact through intellectual property, through innovation and technical advance.”
He added: “There’s one certainty about the future of technology and technology governance, and that is it’s not what it used to be. The other certainty is that it’s moving very quickly.”
IT systems started as a business enabler, but technology has become part of a company’s DNA. “In King I, issued in 1994, not a word about IT governance and IT security. In 2002, the year we issued King II, a passing reference. In 2009, King III, a whole chapter dedicated to IT governance and IT security,” he said.
IT governance is a critical issue, and companies must have an item on their agenda for it in every board meeting, King advised.
The Net generation and the social revolution have necessitated complete transparency in a company. “The social revolution is that civil society does not accept that a company is operating as anything other than a decent corporate citizen. It will attack, will criticise. It will – through social media – affect your brand, and your marketing abilities.”
Companies are now starting to implement supply chain codes of conduct, he said, to make sure their suppliers are acting ethically as well.
Also speaking at the E-Diligence Conference was Kris Budnik, national technology practice leader at PwC.
Budnik spoke on the change in information security. He said the IT security department is at odds with the 21st century company. The latter believes in collaboration and information sharing, where the former tries to protect information and restrict access.
“The future of information security needs to enable business,” he said. Companies need a structured framework for security, and control must be transparent.
Sometimes, best practices can be a bad thing, Budnik noted. Strict password controls could lead to employees writing their passwords down to remember them, which makes them far less secure.
But most importantly, he urged, people need to care about security. “How can we motivate people when we bore them to death? That’s our challenge.” He said companies and security professionals need to come up with fun and innovative ways for people to stay secure.
“We need to be able to create an environment where it is difficult to not do the right thing.”
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