face in a crowd
PHOTO: Mike Wilson

Over the past decade, we’ve seen exponential advancements in technology. From robotics to artificially intelligent chatbots, one thing remains consistent with all of these advancements: the involvement of humans. This year’s RSA Conference (RSAC), which took place Feb. 24 to 28 in San Francisco, focused on just that: the Human Element. To speak to this theme, many of the presentations and conversations at RSAC revolved around the importance of trust, asking how we as risk, compliance and security professionals can work together to protect our coworkers, our customers and our companies.

Trust was just one of the trends I noticed at RSAC 2020. Below are my key takeaways from this year’s event.

How RPA Helps With Risk and Security Processes

According to Gartner, “robotic process automation (RPA) is a productivity tool that allows a user to configure one or more scripts to activate specific keystrokes in an automated fashion. The result is that the bots can be used to mimic or emulate selected tasks within an overall business or IT process.”

What does this really mean?

Through robotic process automation, companies can eliminate mundane rules-based tasks. This will lead to reductions in cost and human error while empowering organizations to make faster, more informed decisions.

For risk, compliance and security professionals especially, robotic process automation can be applied to third-party risk management, IT, policy and procedure, compliance and internal audits. Why? These functions follow a formal process with lots of routine tasks that need to be repeated at scale. These tasks include auto-extraction of data from multiple systems of record, analysis of full data populations, automated risk scoring, and remediation workflows—all of which can be handled by an algorithm. By incorporating this into risk and security processes, cybersecurity professionals can dedicate their time to other areas of the business.

Related Article: How RPA Can Help Your Business Escape the Excel Trap

But Don't Forget, You Still Need Humans

Tech automation is not as reliable as decisions made with a human brain. Because of this, many organizations are still working to strike the right balance between humans and technology. Most risk and compliance tasks require experience and judgment, and can’t be automated at scale.

This doesn't mean to get rid of your entire technology stack. Instead of relying on multiple legacy platforms, companies should find software that allows them to keep a single source of truth, easily integrating with necessary applications and automating mundane tasks. In doing so, your team can use the technology to be more effective and make smarter decisions.

To be successful, companies must take a cross-functional approach to technology adoption with a proper framework and implementation plan. This often requires a dedicated team with well-defined objectives, a clear scope and an agreed-upon allocation of responsibility. Without the human element, this would be impossible.

If there’s anything the past couple of weeks have shown us, it’s that we can’t guess what will happen in the future. The RSA conference helps cybersecurity professionals stay ahead of the curve. Incorporating the takeaways above and continuing to focus on compliance and operational efficiency will help companies continue to operate now and successfully prepare for what’s to come.

Related Article: Why the Future of Work Requires Humans and Machines to Coexist in Harmony