Risky Business

Why every industry can benefit from risk-informed decision making

In September 2019, The Risk Management Society (RIMS) Canada Conference was held in Edmonton, Alberta and brought together speakers from across North America to discuss a variety of risk-related topics. At Disruption we love risk-taskers, so we talked to the President of RIMS, Gloria Brosius, all about risk management.

Disruption: What are some of the contemporary topics in risk management that businesses need to be thinking about?

Gloria: There are so many, and they seem to be more complex than ever before. But one of the top risks would be technology. Technology has done great things for us. It has made our jobs so much easier in many respects. However, it’s also created some additional risks. Cyber security needs to be able to protect our organizations from predators and hackers. Hackers seem to be smarter than we are sometimes, and we need to be educating our employees on how to stay safe in the cyber world.

There’s a good amount of cyber regulation that’s out there right now. You know, governments are trying to step in to protect their citizens and I understand Canada has recently adopted new regulations that control how companies communicate and capture data, which is very good.

Technologies enhance our processes and create a lot of opportunities. There is better data and better tools for us as risk managers, we just need to be able to organize it and prioritize it. But there’s just so much information, it’s challenging to keep up with it all. Every day there are new technologies being introduced; it’s an opportunity for risk managers to support the innovation and growth of our organization. Technologies are changing our traditional practices in risk management.

Disruption: Which industries do you think need to consider risk management most right now?

Gloria: All industries, because all industries are impacted by world events, weather, catastrophes, and the like. Being a global, not-for-profit organization, RIMS can assist all the risk managers, no matter what industry that they come from, if it’s a service industry or a non-profit government entity, we can all come together through RIMS to help each other. The RIMS board is representative of our membership in that we cover a wide variety of industries including higher education, agriculture, the hospitality industry, electricity, and gas. One of the powers of a diverse board is that we can make decisions to help RIMS provide the right services and education to all industries.

From that realization, the group of six scientists decided to start a business which proved harder for the team than expected. “…it turned out that we had no knowledge of how to run a business. We were in school for science and they don’t teach you things like how to deal with co-founders or what sales and marketing actually mean.” 

Disruption: What is the value of risk-informed decision making?

Gloria: You identify the risks, you assess them, you prioritize them, and then you can position risks as opportunities. A lot of people view risks as negative, but sometimes they can really help an organization move forward. By having risk-informed decision-making within your organization, you can act to before some of your competitors are acting. It helps you to set tolerance levels within your organization so that you know when you have reached your maximum risk-taking capacity and when you need to step back and re-assess a particular risk. This helps you allocate resources internally, and it helps you to know when to avoid a risk altogether.

Risk Managers Need to Start Taking Risks

Disruption Strategist Shawn Kanungo is a familiar face as a keynote speaker, but the RIMS Canada Conference was the first time he stepped into the role of emcee. Kanungo made an unforgettable entrance in an autonomous vehicle, thanks to the City of Beaumont. Beaumont is home to Canada’s first-ever pilot project of an autonomous shuttle in mixed-use traffic. It wasn’t just a unique stunt, it was a demonstration of the disruptive technologies that risk managers need to consider and work on solutions for.

“The autonomous vehicle will be one of the biggest disruptors in the insurance industries,” Kanungo says. “The risk and insurance groups have been largely risk-adverse. It’s in their DNA. They have been working in an ecosystem where everyone else is managing risk. But now, most risk professionals have fallen behind and have to start innovating so they can be relevant to a world that has been rapidly changing.”

Kanungo suggests that using exponential technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning can help these industries address the new concerns facing their customers. With more and more people using disruptive technologies, there has been an increase in concerns around data breaches, privacy, and cyber security. These are some of the issues that risk managers need to address, and help organizations understand.

“The big question to ask is, how do we protect people with, and from, the technology they’re using? It always comes back to a mindset towards innovation.”

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