NASDAQ OMX Acquires BWise… Where Is GRC Headed?

Last week saw news that yet another top GRC software vendor has been acquired, following in the footsteps of Paisley, Archer, OpenPages, among others. BWise has always been an impressive vendor in the GRC space, so first off I think congratulations are in order for both parties.

That said, if you didn’t foresee NASDAQ getting into the GRC software space coming, don’t beat yourself up… after seeing the large technology vendors and content providers enter the space over the past 3 years, this wasn’t an obvious move. But looking a little deeper, NASDAQ’s move makes sense for a couple reasons:

-          NASDAQ’s target market cares about GRC. NASDAQ lists its target roles as marketing/corporate communications, board and corporate secretary, investor relations, and corporate finance. All of these roles have a vested interest in better controls, stronger risk management practices, and improved corporate governance.

-          BWise has always focused on the “G” of GRC. More than any other of the top GRC software vendors, BWise targeted governance professionals with capabilities such as entity management.

-          There are immediate integration possibilities. Among NASDAQ’s corporate solutions are products for board management, whistleblower reporting, and XBRL filing. BWise has a host of capabilities (issue management, process management, policy management, reporting, etc.) that could quickly add value to implementations of those products.

But, as always with a deal like this, both parties will have to show the market how they will address some key questions:

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Don’t Forbid Employees From Using The Escalator, Give Them Reasons To Use The Stairs

Guest post from Researcher Nick Hayes.

If you had to go up one level in a train station, would you take the stairs or use the escalator? Most people would choose the escalator. But what if the staircase played musical notes like an interactive piano? This may change things, right? A couple of years ago, Volkswagen began sponsoring an initiative called The Fun Theory that tested the degree to which they could change people’s behavior for the better by introducing an element of fun. In one example, they found that by adding a unique element to the stairs – transforming it into an interactive piano – they were able to increase staircase use by 66%. You can watch the short video here.

You can apply this same principle to your training and awareness programs -- find your own piano staircase, and use it to begin guiding people to choose the right thing on their own. Chris and I have been working on a report that stresses the importance of organizational culture in the development of risk and compliance programs. Throughout the research process, we asked risk and compliance professionals and vendors in the space the same question: “How are you influencing and promoting positive behavior?”

You can create new technical controls and policies, and you can require employees to sign attestations all day, but these efforts have minimal value (or worse) when there’s no positive reinforcement. When compliance and risk management are considered obligatory tasks, rather than meaningful efforts that the company values, it diminishes the perceived importance of ethical behavior.

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Announcing Two New Forrester Waves: Enterprise GRC And IT GRC

After months of diligent product and vendor evaluations, today we published The Forrester Wave: Enterprise GRC Platforms, Q4 2011. In the next few days, we will also publish The Forrester Wave: IT GRC Platforms, Q4 2011. These two reports feature a total of 20 vendors, all with proven capabilities to help customers tackle their continuously mounting regulatory challenges and manage their complicated risk profiles.

Why two Forrester Waves?

Governance, risk, and compliance functions within large and medium enterprises demonstrate tighter collaboration all the time... audit is working more closely with risk, and compliance programs are consolidating under more centralized control. However, Forrester still sees a gap between the requirements of those responsible for IT risk and compliance and the requirements of those managing risk and compliance outside of IT. No doubt, there is often substantial overlap between these groups, and many of the vendors evaluated have customers using their products to supports both IT and enterprise GRC functions. You’ll notice that of the roughly 60 evaluation criteria for each Wave, there are only 3-4 that differ between them. For now though, they remain basically two distinct markets.

So, what did we learn from the countless hours of briefings, demos, customer surveys, and other research we did for this Wave?

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Are Your Risk Management Efforts Enabling Partnership Opportunities?

Forrester's Security and Risk Management clients often describe the frustration they feel when they are not included in important initiatives until after decisions have been made. Lately, this situation has been especially pronounced among decisions to enter partnership agreements based on service, performance, and cost considerations... with risk management only brought in later to identify and mitigate potential points of exposure.

At the same time, Forrester's Sourcing and Vendor Management professionals find themselves facing their own challenges when it comes to managing the risk of partner relationships. In a Q3, 2011 suvey of 575 Sourcing and Vendor Management professionals, top concerns related at "X-as-a-service" relationships included the lack of recourse if a vendor fails or goes out of business, the lack of a clear way to assess risk of a third party, and inability to manage how providers are handling data. ( Source: Forrsights Services Survey, Q3 2011)

In order to bridge this gap, Security and Risk Management professionals need to deliver a streamlined way to insert risk identification, analysis, and evaluation steps within their organization's existing vendor management lifecycle. Forrester customers who have taken this approach - for example, by introducing short, 10-15 question surveys to determine whether more detailed vendor risk assessments are warranted - report better oversight of vendor risk and better involvement in the decision making process. In some cases, Security and Risk Management professionals have even reported casting a decisive thumbs-down vote to block a new vendor contract because it represents unacceptable risk.

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IBM To Acquire Algorithmics... GRC And Financial Risk Management Get A Little Closer

Today IBM announced plans to acquire the Fitch Group’s Algorithmics, a heavy-hitter in financial risk management software and services market, for $387 million.

 Here are my initial thoughts about today’s announcement:

  • IBM is making a (relatively safe) bet that operational and financial risk functions will continue to comes together. Regulatory pressures from Basel III, Dodd-Frank, and Solvency II, as well as the competitive realities of the global market, are pushing for banks and insurance companies to have more comprehensive oversight of exposure across all domains of risk. In fact, analytics should be a top priority of any compliance program. It will be some time before IBM (or any other vendor) can deliver a single platform to manage operational, credit, market, liquidity, etc. in one place; however, the addition of Algo’s subject matter expertise and even basic integration of data for a single source of reporting offers customers attractive benefits.
  • IBM still faces heavy competition in financial services for both operational risk with its OpenPages product and financial risk with its new Algo offerings... however. there are very few significant competitors that have strength in both. IBM’s announcement today was a strong move against these other few, most notably Oracle and SAS.
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A Few Thoughts On Communicating Risk

In my new report, The Risk Manager's Handbook: How To Measure And Understand Risks, I present industry best practices and guidance on ways to articulate the extent or size of a risk. More than the interpersonal, political, and leadership skills required of a risk management professional, defining how risks are measured and communicated is where I believe they prove their worth. If risk measurement techniques are too complicated, they may discourage crucial input from colleagues and subject matter experts... but if they are too simple, they won't yield enough relevant information to guide important business decisions. Great communication skills can only hide irrelevant information for so long.

This report includes factors to use in the risk measurement process, ways to present risk measurement data in meaningful ways, and criteria to use when deciding which of these methods are most appropriate. As always, your feedback is welcome and appreciated.

In addition, I will be covering a related topic with our Security and Risk Council in a session called Creating A High-Impact Executive Report along with my colleague Ed Ferrara at Forrester's upcoming IT Forum: Accelerate At The Intersection Of Business And Technology, May 25-27, in Las Vegas. Please join us if you can make it. Later in the week, I will be available for 1-on-1 meetings with attendees, and I'll also present sessions on linking goverannce and risk and establishing good vendor risk management practices. I hope to see you there. 

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Developing A Formal Risk Management Program

Of all the client inquiries and advisories we get related to risk management, one of the most frequent topics of discussion continues to be the role of risk management. Who should be involved? How? What should our objectives be? How should we measure success?

I cover these and related topics in my Risk Manager's Handbook series, which presents best practice examples and recommendations following the core process elements found in the ISO 31000 standard. My first two reports in this series are The Risk Manager's Handbook: How To Explain The Role Of Risk Management and The Risk Manager's Handbook: How To Identify And Describe Risks.

In an upcoming Security & Risk Council member meeting in London, I plan to take members through each of the five steps of ISO 31000 in an interactive workshop. We will discuss how to build repeatable and consistent processes, demonstrate that process to stakeholders, improve strategy and planning, and show support for relevant corporate functions and business units. If you’re interested in discussing this idea with me and other members of the Security & Risk Council, please consider joining us on March 16 in London. In order to qualify to attend, you must be a senior-level security and/or risk management executive in a $1B+ organization.  Please click here for more details on the S&R Council or on the member meeting itself.

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Nasdaq Hack Brings Security Issues Into The Boardroom

 Have you been having trouble getting your board of directors to care about information security? This weekend’s news that Nasdaq’s Directors Desk web application was compromised by hackers may help to improve your situation.

Details have been elusive thus far, but reports indicate that multiple breaches occurred, resulting in “suspicious files” on the company’s servers. A statement released by Nasdaq assures us that its trading systems and customer data were not compromised, and those in the know tend to agree that infiltrating the trading systems would be substantially more difficult than breaking into the web environment and leaving a few files behind. As the investigation continues, hopefully we'll learn more, but what can we take away from this story so far?

  • The list of attractive hacker targets continues to grow. Whoever perpetrated this breach chose not to go after traditionally lucrative targets like customer/employee data or a more difficult and devastating attempt to dismantle one of the world’s biggest exchanges. Instead the target was a more accessible set of extremely sensitive corporate data – details about mergers, acquisitions, dividends, and earnings. Without much sophistication, criminals could use this information to execute rather impressive “insider trading” transactions or simply find an outlet like WikiLeaks for some of the more embarrassing tidbits.
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For GRC Decisions, Avoid The ROI Discussion If Possible . . . But If You Can't, Here Are Some Tips

This week we published the first in a series of reports I'll be writing to help clients calculate the return on investment of GRC technologies. This report, How To Measure The ROI Of A GRC Platform, outlines the key factors and suggested metrics to show what GRC can do for your organization. 

Of course, my first recommendation is to exhaust your arsenal of arguments before falling back into ROI terrain. GRC is about improving oversight, strengthening controls, and finding ways for the business to succeed within the boundaries of risk tolerance. But these board-level issues can quickly give way to questions of costs and savings... so it's good to be prepared.

The considerations for costs (software, hardware, maintenance, implementation, etc.) are not much different than other large IT projects, nor are the associated risks (requirements, scope, adoption, integration, etc.). What's tough is articulating the benefits. The report offers much more detail, but generally the success factors of a GRC implementation fall into three categories. These are:

  • Efficiency, which includes product and process consolidation as well as facilitation of processes such as policy development and distribution, risk and control assessments, incident/issue management, data/report aggregation.
  • Risk reduction, which  includes decreases in audit and examination findings, reduction in regulatory fines, faster remediation of issues, and the secondary benefits of these improvements, such as deceased cost of capital and lower insurance costs.
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In 2011 The GRC Market Will Grow 20%, Driven More By Breadth Than Maturity

On the heels of Forrester's GRC Market Overview last month, this week we published my Governance, Risk, And Compliance Predictions: 2011 And Beyond report. Based on our research with GRC vendors, buyers, and users, this paper highlights the aggressive regulatory environment and greater attention to risk management as drivers for change. Specifically, here is a brief summary of the top five trends we will see next year:

  • Increasing vendor competition will continue to bring more choices and more confusion. Strong market growth will encourage more technology and service vendors to get into the market, which means the fragmentation (which I've discussed previously) and confusion will continue.

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