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How culture builds risk

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In 1987, a London Underground ticket seller was alerted to a burning tissue on one of the escalators. They duly put it out, but didn’t report the incident. If they did, the slowly-building inferno under the station might have been discovered in time. Instead, several hours later 31 people were dead and over a 100 injured in the King’s Cross Fire, a notorious blaze that consumed one of the train service’s biggest and deepest stations.

The ticket seller wasn’t lazy or ignorant. Instead, by this stage the bureaucracy of the Underground had created a culture of Chinese firewalls. Everyone knew their place. Health and Safety was not the business of the ticket office. Subsequent investigations found that this problem occurred consistently across the Underground’s bureaucracy, even at the highest levels. A fire quite literally burned under the floors, but the company’s culture made people blind to seeing it.

Why culture matters

Culture is a collection of habits. People who share a culture have similar ways of doing things. For example, driving on the left side of the road is a culture. People who don’t do that seem weird and can even be a danger. Company cultures are no different: they represent the collective habits of the employees, reinforced by the vision of leadership. This is why, when leadership and reality are not aligned, staff become disenchanted.

What does this have to do with risk? According to Deloitte, an organisation’s culture determines how it manages risk when under stress. For some companies, their risk culture can be a liability. For others, it can provide both stability and a competitive advantage.

Risk is a goldilocks force: you don’t want too much or too little, the latter meaning less reward. But many companies don’t look at risk as a strategic ingredient – they simply avoid it as much as possible. It becomes a sideshow, one that shouldn’t include the employees.

Yet risk is all about intelligence, and who better to be the eyes and ears of the company than its people? They interact with customers, suppliers, processes and inventory every day. They can feed insight into risk measurements, which risk managers then present to the leadership.

It stands to reason that a good risk awareness culture is incredibly valuable to a business. Deloitte lists the following as crucial to risk culture:

●             Commonality of purpose, values and ethics,

●             Universal adoption and application of risk,

●             Learning from risk, and

●             Timely, transparent and honest communications

Giving staff the right tools

How can that be accomplished? The answer lies in the tools that employees use. Risk should have a functional value to the employees. This can be done using data culture and risk integration platforms. By deploying a cloud-based risk capturing system, you can reach across the silos that employees and departments use to secure themselves. It can also be scaled conveniently to adapt as the company does. This helps create a proactive-risk culture.

You can already see the tangible impact of cloud platforms by their sheer dominance: few major companies still do without a service such as Salesforce or its peers. These technologies are transformational, so it stands to reason you should tap them to transform risk culture. This is what we’re doing with Riskonnect.

Such a platform extends the flow of data to beyond the business silos, enabling risk professionals, managers and the exco to have a single truth and up-to-date view of the company’s risk profile. It also encourages employees to wield data for their own insights and creates a sense of risk as a strategic tool, not a curse.

An errant match caused the biggest fire in the London Underground’s history. But the real shock was how silos created a risk-averse culture that cost lives. Since then the London Underground has improved remarkably: today its main risks are not fire, but effective modernisation. London’s transport risk culture now tackles new problems such as commuter stagnation and pollution from vehicles. That is a big step up from ignoring the embers of an underground inferno.

Don’t wait for a fire to show you the strategic potential of risk. Invest a little today and start growing that culture that will ensure the business’ future.

* Riaan Bekker, Riskonnect Solutions Manager, thrive

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The future of the book… and of reading

Many fear that the days of the printed book are numbered. In truth, it is not so much the book that is evolving, but the very act of reading, argues ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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Let’s talk about a revolutionary technology. One that has already changed the course of civilisation. It is also a dangerous technology, one that is spreading previously hidden knowledge among people who may misuse and abuse the technology in ways we cannot imagine.

Every one reading this is a link in a chain of this dangerous and subversive technology.

I’m talking, of course, about the printed book.

To understand how the book has changed society, though, we must also understand how the book has changed reading. That, in turn, will help us understand the future of the book.

Because the future of the book is in fact the future of reading.

Let’s go back to a time some may remember as their carefree youth. The year 400. 

(Go back in history with the links below.)

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Wearables enter enterprise

Regardless of whether wearables lack the mobility or security capabilities to fully support the ways in which we now work – organisations remain keen and willing to unlock the potential such devices have, says RONALD RAVEL, Director B2B South Africa, Toshiba South Africa.

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The idea of integrating wearable technology into enterprise IT infrastructure is one which, while being mooted for several years now, has yet to take-off in earnest. The reasons behind previous false dawns vary. However, what is evident is that – regardless of whether wearables to date have lacked the mobility or security capabilities to fully support the ways in which we now work – organisations remain keen and willing to unlock the potential such devices have. According to ABI Research, global wearable device shipments will reach 154 million by 2021 – a significant jump from approximately 34 million in 2016.

This projected increase demonstrates a confidence amongst CIOs which perhaps betrays the lack of success in the market to date, but at the same time reflects a ripening of conditions which could make 2018 the year in which wearables finally take off in the enterprise. A maturing IoT market, advances in the development of Augmented Reality (AR), and the impending arrival of 5G – which is estimated to have a subscription base of half a billion by 2022 – are contributing factors which will drive the capabilities of wearable devices.

Perhaps the most significant catalyst behind wearables is the rise of Edge Computing. As the IoT market continues to thrive, so too must IT managers be able to securely and efficiently address the vast amounts of data generated by it. Edge Computing helps organisations to resolve this challenge, while at the same time enabling new methods of gathering, analysing and redistributing data and derived intelligence. Processing data at the edge reduces strain on the cloud so users can be more selective of the data they send to the network core. Such an approach also makes it easier for cyber-attacks to be identified at an early stage and restricted to a device at the edge. Data can then be scanned and encrypted before it is sent to the core.

As more and more wearable devices and applications are developed with business efficiency and enablement in mind, Edge Computing’s role will become increasingly valuable – helping organisations to achieve $2 trillion in extra benefits over the next five years, according to Equinix and IDC research.

Photo by Kathryn Bacher.

Where will wearables have an impact?

At the same time as these technological developments are aiding the rise of wearables, so too are CIOs across various sectors recognising how they can best use these devices to enhance mobile productivity within their organisation – another factor which is helping to solidify the market. In particular it is industries with a heavy reliance on frontline and field workers – such as logistics, manufacturing, warehousing and healthcare – which are adopting solutions like AR smart glasses. The use case for each is specific to the sector, or even the organisation itself, but this flexibility is often what makes such devices so appealing. While wearables for the more traditional office worker may offer a different but no more efficient way for workers to conduct every day tasks such as checking emails and answering phone calls, for frontline and field workers they are being tailored to meet their unique demands and enhance their ability to perform specific tasks.

Take for example boiler engineers conducting an annual service, who could potentially use AR smart glasses to overlay the schematics of the boiler to enable a hands-free view of service procedures – meaning that when a fault becomes a barrier to repair, the engineer is able to use collaboration software to call for assistance from a remote expert. Elsewhere, in the healthcare sector smart eyewear may support clinicians with hands-free identification of patient records, medical procedures and information on medicines and results.

Such examples demonstrate the immediate and diverse potential of wearables across different verticals. With enterprise IT infrastructure now in the position to embrace such technologies, it is this ability to deliver bespoke functionality to mobile workers which will be the catalyst for continued uptake throughout 2018 and beyond.

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