What is digital risk?

SA Law's "Let's talk digital" event identifies the breadth and drivers
Thu 8th Dec 2016

SA Law’s “Let’s talk digital” event at the Institute of Directors in London drew a wide range of delegates who came to learn more about the evolving challenges that digital technology presents to organisations and commercial ventures.

Panellists Chris Cook (Employment), our Property Dispute Resolution team and Simon Walsh (Dispute Resolution) led the first session, casting their net wide to cover a breadth of digital risks and their solutions.

A key focus of the panel session was ‘know who you do business with’, particularly in a world where more and more business connections are made through social networking services such as LinkedIn, and where email has long surpassed paper correspondence. The prevalence of fake online profiles and targeted phishing messages is forcing organisations to pay much closer attention to checking whether people are who they say they are.

The panellists went on to illustrate how digital risk extends much further than cyber crime. Evolving technology has created cultural changes such as agility and homeworking, which have the capacity to put confidential intellectual property at risk, and expose an organisation to data protection breaches. The agile workforce is also affecting traditional overheads, with the need to adopt a more flexible approach to renting and owning office space.

Pinpointing the drivers of digital risk revealed that the challenge isn’t necessarily the technology itself, but how people use it. The focus on ‘people’ places as much emphasis on an organisation’s HR strategy as its IT strategy. The HR function is responsible for putting adequate policies and procedures in place that make it clear what employees can and can’t do, and training them on how to protect the brand. The focus on people is also why our employment representative Chris Cook had to cover quite a lot of ground when it came to the Q&A!

Following the panel session, delegates were treated to a fascinating talk by guest speaker Professor Lisa Webley from the University of Westminster, who explained how artificial intelligence (AI) is likely to impact our working lives over the next 10 years. Whereas some sectors already rely on machine-assisted decision-making, we are fast approaching a tipping point where AI could become a key competitive differentiation for all businesses.

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