Singapore and global companies unprepared for GDPR compliance, EY survey finds

Singapore, 12 February 2018

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  • Majority (Singapore 70%, global 78%) consider data protection and data privacy compliance a growing concern
  • Only 10% of Singapore respondents (global 33%) have a plan in place for GDPR
  • Emerging technologies on the horizon – Singapore businesses to adopt artificial intelligence (51%) and robotic process automation (43%) to fight fraud risks

Intensifying regulatory pressures are top of mind for business leaders, with 70% of Singapore respondents (global: 78%) expressing increasing concern about data protection and data privacy compliance.

This is according to the third biennial EY Global Forensic Data Analytics Survey, which examined the responses of 745 executives from 19 countries (including 40 from Singapore) and analyzed the legal, compliance and fraud risks that global companies face and the use of forensic data analytics (FDA) to manage them.

However, with less than four months to go before the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on 25 May 2018, only 33% of respondents globally stated that they have a plan in place to comply with the EU legislation. The average response of those in Europe was more positive, with 60% indicating they have a compliance plan in place. There is still much more work to be done in other markets, including Africa and the Middle East (27%), the Americas (13%), Asia-Pacific (12%), where significantly fewer companies indicated readiness for GDPR compliance.

Reuben Khoo, EY Asean Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services Leader, says: “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. While organizations in Singapore show growing concerns on data privacy compliance, many may not be aware of the immense extraterritorial reach of GDPR, its requirements and implications for data breach. Many organizations are still not compelled to take proactive measures to mitigate such risks, given that our survey shows only 10% of the respondent in Singapore have a GDPR compliance plan in place. Organizations should adopt FDA as a key tool in its GDPR compliance efforts and assess opportunities to integrate them into their compliance programs.”

Increased adoption of FDA to manage risks

According to the report, respondents expressed a strong belief in the value of FDA and its benefits for an organization’s governance program, which is evidenced by a 67% increase (global 51%) in average annual spend per respondent compared with 2016.

Companies have significantly developed beyond relying on the basic FDA tools of the last decade, with 13% of Singapore respondents (global 14%) stating that they are already using robotic process automation (RPA) to manage legal, compliance and fraud risks. As well, a further 51% of Singapore respondents (global 38%) stated they are likely to adopt artificial intelligence within the next 12 months, followed by RPA at 43% (global 39%).

The survey found that 48% of Singapore respondents (global 42%) believe that data protection and data privacy regulations have a significant impact on the design or use of FDA. The survey further revealed that just 11% of Singapore respondents (global 13%) indicated that they currently use FDA to achieve GDPR compliance, with a-third (33%) of Singapore respondents (global 52%) currently in the process of analyzing exactly which FDA tools they would use to assist them with achieving compliance.

Reuben says:

“Businesses that adopt FDA technologies can achieve significant advantages, benefitting from more effective risk management and increased business transparency across all of their operations. Businesses are using the advancement and power of FDA to transform their risk functions in a way that was never previously possible. With better adoption of advanced FDA technologies, companies are also using more structured and unstructured data sources compared to a couple of years ago. ”

Investment in people and skills key to unlocking the full potential of FDA

Overall, the report highlights how increased adoption of, and spending on advanced FDA technologies, needs to be matched with greater investment in skilled resources. Of the respondents surveyed, only a fraction of respondents feel that their organization has the right technical skills in FDA (Singapore 8%, global: 13%), and the right data analytics/data science skills (Singapore 8%, global: 12%).

Reuben says:

“FDA is not just about technology, but about the people who manage that technology and how they use it to manage risks. While it’s encouraging to see that investment in advanced FDA is increasing, companies need to match greater adoption of FDA with greater investment in skilled resources that have a combination of technical skills, domain knowledge and data analytics expertise in order to be successful in managing their risk profile.”

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