Risk Annual Conference

The evolution of risk in a digital age took center stage at The Risk Institute’s fourth Annual Conference at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business.

The event hosted a diverse audience from a wide cross-section of industries. Speakers included industry luminaries Aneesh Chopra, First Chief Technology Officer of the United States appointed by President Obama; and Paul Zikopoulos, VP of the Competitive and BigData Analytics Teams for IBM.

Gender diversity, smashing glass ceilings, and being women in a male-dominated industry dominated the conversation of the ‘Women in Risk’ panel discussion featuring Helga Houston (Huntington Bank), Tami Hudson (EY), Tara Papp (Vantiv), Helen Patton (Ohio State) and Suzanne Surface (NiSource) sharing their perspectives as women in the risk industry.

The path to achieving equity in the work place “seems counterintuitive,” said Patton. “But female workers will not advance until their male counterparts become their advocates. It would be great to get to a point when we don’t have to have this conversation because that means we are at a point where diversity has become the norm.”

 The Risk Institute 2017 Annual Conference

Just as the iPhone, Facebook, Amazon, and Google were changing the way we live our lives, the last decade has also seen an explosion of counterintuitive thinking in risk practice. Gone are the days of simply identifying a risk and buying insurance. Data breaches and hacks have become our new normal. When confronted with such obvious risk, just purchasing a cybersecurity insurance policy isn’t going to cut it. Aneesh Chopra suggested a more radical approach – opening up while locking down.

“Assume,” Chopra said, “everyone gets in.”

Rather than the more traditional “moat-building” approach, he stressed the importance of comprehensive tracking/mitigation techniques so that once someone gets in a company can see where they went and, more importantly, shut them down quickly. He also underlined the importance of personal accountability in cybersecurity.

“Any one of us is most usually not aware of the risk we individually pose to our organizations,” he said.

How best organizations might be able to leverage emerging technologies, specifically blockchain was the topic Paul Brody, Global Blockchain Innovation Leader at EY spoke to. Blockchain is a tamper-resistant ledger of online interactions between parties. Paul Zikopoulos from IBM outlined ‘The Internet of Things’, and the surging power of data collection from everyday objects such as vehicles and buildings. Other speakers addressed timely subjects including data privacy, machine learning, and the management of cyber risk.

Covering so many subjects in the span of a couple days was no easy task; the complexity of digital trends is a constant evolution, one that changes as quickly as it picks up speed. As Greg Khairallah, Senior Manager for Big Data and Analytics at Amazon Web Services, put it, “So what’s the point then of adapting these technologies and embracing the risks involved if we’re just going to have to change again? Because this is the future.”

“We simply cannot afford to think about risk the same way we’ve thought about it in the past.”