How can you disrupt risk in an era of digital transformation?

The 2018 Global Forensic Data Analytics Survey, by EY Forensic & Integrity Services, reveals that intensifying regulatory pressures are top of mind for business leaders.

In our latest Global Forensic Data Analytics Survey, we have analyzed the responses of some 745 executives. Through this analysis, we can see specific ways in which companies can measurably improve their legal, compliance and fraud risk programs, as well as the maturity level of their forensic data analytics (FDA) capabilities.

It is an exciting time for companies as digital transformation creates new opportunities. Artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and advanced data analytics are just some of the new possibilities being explored. However, a growing digital footprint comes with additional risks.

Two risks come into sharp focus in this survey: 1) regulatory compliance, 2) data protection and data privacy. We heard from companies around the world that expressed growing concern in these areas and identified real challenges to overcome. This year’s Global Forensic Data Analytics Survey findings show that this is where Forensic Data Analytics (FDA) has a vital role to play.

Global Forensic Data Analytics Survey 2018

78%

of respondents expressed increasing concern about data protection and data privacy compliance.

The pace of regulatory change continues to accelerate and the introduction of data protection and data privacy laws, such as GDPR, are major compliance challenges for global organizations. But businesses that adopt FDA technologies can achieve significant advantages, benefitting from more effective risk management and increased business transparency across all of their operations.
Andrew Gordon
EY Global Forensic & Integrity Services Leader

Key findings from the survey

Digital transformation drives FDA advancements and offers opportunities for enhanced risk mitigation

Digital transformation drives advancements in FDA but also introduces new risks. This year’s survey shows that companies’ overall risk profiles are continuing to expand, with data protection and data privacy compliance risk registering the highest level of concern by survey respondents.

However, FDA advancements are enabling companies to gain business and risk insights faster and more accurately than ever before. This is demonstrated in the strong recognition of FDA’s effectiveness in managing various risks by the survey respondents.

Respondents continue to feel strongly about the wide-ranging benefits of FDA. This has helped reverse the trend of prior years, during which companies had held back on FDA investment. The average annual spend on FDA is 51% higher than what was reported in 2016.

The average annual spend on FDA is

51%

more than 2016.

Technologies are advancing; resources and skills continue to be in demand

This year’s results show an increase in the use of advanced FDA technologies by companies from the prior two surveys. Respondents also indicated that additional investments in emerging technologies are on the horizon. Thirty-nine percent of respondents reported that they are likely to adopt robotic process automation within the next year. Further, 38% plan to adopt artificial intelligence.

FDA technologies and techniques need to be implemented by people who have the right business domain knowledge, data analytics or data science expertise, and technical skills. Yet, only 12%–13% of respondents feel that they have the right mix of FDA expertise.

Global Forensic Data Analytics Survey 2018

39%

of respondents plan to adopt robotic process automation within the next year.

FDA integration and governance are necessary for success

The cross-functional collaboration needed to implement effective FDA processes continues to be a challenge for more than 50% of respondents. Implementations tend to be decentralized in these companies; they are also often understaffed. Improving implementation and gaining leadership support and appropriate funding will drive even more value from FDA. 

Nearly half of respondents indicated the need to improve management’s awareness of the benefits of FDA. Better governance will directly improve management support and awareness, and will also facilitate collaboration that leads to better integration of data sources and improved information sharing.

Global Forensic Data Analytics Survey 2018

45%

of respondents agree that they need to improve management's awareness of the benefits of FDA in managing risks.

The application of FDA within data protection and data privacy compliance is paramount

Around the world, countries are enacting data protection and privacy regulations that present real compliance challenges for companies. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which became effective in May 2018, is complex, applicable to companies globally, and has significant potential financial penalties. Yet at the time of our survey, only 33% of respondents had a plan to address GDPR compliance. Another 39% of respondents indicated that they are not at all familiar with the GDPR.

Forty-two percent of respondents believe that data protection and data privacy regulations have a significant impact on the design and use of FDA. FDA can be a valuable part of achieving compliance with data protection and privacy regulations, as one tool in an organization’s information governance program. On the other hand, companies that incorporate data protection and data privacy compliance in their FDA strategies can gain a competitive edge over those that choose to avoid FDA, due to the cost of compliance and regulatory concerns.

Global Forensic Data Analytics Survey 2018

42%

agree that data protection and data privacy regulations have a significant impact on the design and use of FDA.

Realizing the full potential of FDA and transforming the risk functions 

An effective FDA strategy will lead to better risk management and increased business transparency. To achieve the full potential of FDA, companies should aim for better integration; leverage the right technologies, data and people; and secure strong leadership support. 

With the right efforts, investment and leadership support, the confluence of data and technology will better address businesses’ needs to manage legal, compliance and fraud risks. Companies can extend FDA’s benefits beyond basic risk functions while increasing business transparency and improving operational efficiency. In doing so, the risk function can continue to protect the business, while also offering insights that can inform business opportunities and strategy.

Global Forensic Data Analytics Survey 2018

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Summary

Seventy-eight percent consider data protection and data privacy compliance a growing concern, yet only 33% have a plan in place for GDPR. Increasing adoption of advanced FDA technology, including robotics and AI, is likely over the next 12 months.

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