DEREK SMITH: ‘Digital transformation’ - The second part is key

Every company has been forced to reinvent itself, or re-evaluate how it does business, due to a digital evolution that some might call a revolution. Large companies have invested substantial resources in what is usually referred to as “digital transformation”. However, a problem occurs when they undertake a digital transformation plan without a clearly defined vision of what this should entail.

Harvard Review writer, Thomas Chamorro-Premuzic, wrote: “Although every organisation is unique, and there are salient differences between types of businesses, industries and cultures, the fundamental meaning of transformation is not about replacing old technologies with new ones or capturing high volumes of data, or hiring an army of data scientists, or trying to copy some of the things Google or Amazon do.” I submit that this holds true in the compliance sphere, as there may be a “one size fits all” approach in some situations for attracting and retaining professionals.

This article highlights some factors (not exhaustive) that should be on each company’s radar regarding its compliance function’s strategic composition.

Factor 1: Understanding data surrounding inherent internal risks

Inherent risks are the risks associated with the mere establishment of a company. They are both internal and external. This writer says the ability to scale knowledge about your internal environment, and understand it across the company, must rely on having data. This data should be researched rather than anecdotal. There must be a shift from hearsay to an empirical culture. Technology can aid this shift. Quantifying human behaviour and translating it into standardised signals is understood as digitisation. This then allows technology to analyse data and provide insight.

Companies should capitalise on this data to drive hiring strategies regarding compliance professionals. Data must drive job placement channels, identifying a candidate’s qualities and experience, and keenly appreciate the potential impact on current staff. Balancing a candidate’s fit with the company, and the attributes they bring to the company, is also crucial because bad hires can disrupt compliance department flows. Conversely, the correct engagement can exponentially add value to a compliance department.

Factor 2: Understanding your current talent drivers and business needs

In today’s business paradigm, legal compliance is required together with agility. Compliance leaders are finding their strategies must be rethought to accommodate new business drivers and evolving audience expectations. The Bahamas Society for Human Resources Management’s president-elect, Lashanta Smith, uttered similar sentiments during her recent presentation to the Institute of Internal Auditors (”IIA”) Bahamas chapter. She said: “If leaders are to build synergy for growth in a diverse workplace, they must recognise and address each generation’s perspective”.

A careful analysis considering people, data, deliverables and anticipated results must be completed and then constantly monitored to ensure human capital is accurately aligned with your compliance programme and organisational goals.


In short, the critical part of digital transformation is not “digital” but “transformation.” Additionally, as the compliance space evolves, industry and company nuances must be considered when attracting, hiring and working to retain compliance talent.

NB: About Derek Smith Jr

Derek Smith Jr. has been a governance, risk and compliance professional for more than 20 years. He has held positions at a TerraLex member law firm, a Wolfsburg Group member bank and a ‘big four’ accounting firm. Mr Smith is a certified anti-money laundering specialist (CAMS), and the compliance officer and money laundering reporting officer (MLRO) for CG Atlantic’s family of companies (member of Coralisle Group) for The Bahamas and Turks & Caicos.


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