IBM RegTech Innovations

Holistic surveillance: Treating a business like family

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If you’re a parent, you have most likely discovered the benefit of technology to help keep your children safe. Tech like video cameras can assure you your child has made it home from school, while apps can let you know your child’s location or notify you if they’re speeding while driving, or can even tell you how much time they’re spending on social media. It would be safe to say that thanks to modern technology, you’re able to ensure the safety of your family and stay connected more than ever before. While to the child this level of insight might come across as overbearing, these controls warn you of a potential problem before it happens and give you the opportunity to address bad habits at the first sign of trouble.

In much the same way, businesses are also turning to technology to proactively gain an understanding of conduct issues, address regulatory obligations and uncover questionable business practices to establish transparency, and keep the organization and its customers safe. At IBM Think 2019 in San Francisco, I had the pleasure of attending a session on specifically this subject. Sonali Bhavsar, IBM Associate Partner in Watson FSS Industry Platforms presented “Harnessing Advanced Technologies to Meet Modern-Day Surveillance Challenges.” She explained how businesses are using surveillance technology to provide security to their organizations, but also cautioned that the same businesses are challenged by the limitations of legacy technology, which hampers the time and effort required to manually address surveillance concerns.

The role current technology plays in surveillance

Since organizations cannot watch over each and every employee like a parent does for their child, instead, they rely on technology to get a complete and accurate picture of employee behavior and watch for actions that either violate rules outright or are headed in that direction. To be effective, organizations need to have real-time supervision and surveillance, as well as be predictive instead of reactive. These points are essential for every institution as regulatory pressure continues to mount, and high-profile cases of employee misconduct can cause widely-reported reputational and financial damage.

To keep with the parent and child analogy, let’s think about why current surveillance methods make it difficult to appropriately identify misconduct and issues. Just as your teenager will find ways to circumvent whatever controls or oversight on their communication you put in place (for example, they may turn to Instagram direct message versus texting), so too do employees realize that email is the most heavily scrutinized communication channel and will choose alternative methods such as Slack, Signal, or Telegram. Traditional surveillance technology cannot keep pace with the changing dynamics of communication.

The future of surveillance

In her presentation, Ms. Bhavsar introduced the idea of “holistic surveillance.” Simply put, instead of firms relying on rule-based alert systems designed for email communication and static keywords, they should take a holistic approach that makes use of a reasoning engine that can take in information from multiple data sources including email, voice, text and even other data like trade and customer feedback. By using learning models that are continuously updated, and provide effective, easy-to-use visualization tools, surveillance becomes predictive and preventative in real-time. This will improve the accuracy of alerts, reducing false positives and increasing the efficiency of investigations and their findings.

Another key element for effective surveillance is to understand relationships among the parties communicating. A text message from your teenage daughter to one of her girlfriends, Ryan, about hanging out on the weekend is very different from her texting a boy, Ryan, about plans for the two of them to meet up. Without this context it is difficult, if not downright impossible, to uncover potential schemes and fully understand behaviors. By using technology that brings together numerous data points, spotting patterns and anomalies, firms will be able to satisfy increasingly stringent regulatory requirements and avoid damaging employee misconduct through a comprehensive, holistic view.

Moving towards holistic surveillance today

Making a change from current operations to enhanced technology and broadened data is a journey. While firms recognize the ideal state, taking practical steps to move towards that reality takes time and intentional solutioning decisions. IBM Surveillance Insight for Financial Services focuses heavily on building a complete picture with enterprise scale, leveraging experience in analyzing various communication channels and associated data. Through pre-built and dynamic models, organizations can identify new predictive patterns and detect sophisticated misconduct, with evidence and reasoning to substantiate investigations.

To learn more about IBM solutions across surveillance, compliance and risk management (latest technology for monitoring your children not included), visit us below.

Watson Financial Services Sales Representative

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