We’re living through a time when, I must confess, much of what I’ve always considered common sense seems to have been thrown out of the window. The rights of the few versus the rights of the many, the common good versus the individual freedoms, personal versus corporate accountability are all in flux, and the dreaded “political correctness” police are ready to squelch any meaningful debate around the more ridiculous manifestations of regulated protection.

Our society seems to delight in the dilemnas it creates for itself by imposing mutually exclusive values. Take, for example, the regulatory pursuit of truth and openness in business that dictates, among other things, job applicants have the right to read and challenge anything negative that might be said about them in a reference. This makes truth the least likely component of such a reference for all except the flawless. We’ve protected ourselves against the possibility that someone we have upset would unfairly disadvantage us in the job market – surely a minority – but devalued the reference to the point where it is little more than a factual history of employment dates.

CIOs need to be ready for what’s coming, and would be wise to learn from how companies that are now regulated are dealing with it, since IT is at the heart of the process of audit and accountability.John Pickett>TextSome highly publicized cases of corporate misconduct have given rise to regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, currently applicable to only companies trading on U.S. Exchanges, but already giving rise to similar regulation in Canada and other geographies. And whether directly regulated or not, this movement is raising the bar on corporate governance for all companies.

I’m not suggesting that some regulatory intervention is not warranted. I am concerned, however, that if society’s current preference for overkill should prevail, corporate life could become downright unappealing. Already we hear that in the U.S., the multitude of often conflicting regulations at various levels of government is making virtually impossible compliance with all. If you do business on a global scale, running afoul of some regulation, somewhere, is almost guaranteed.

CIOs need to be ready for what’s coming, and would be wise to learn from how companies that are now regulated are dealing with it, since IT is at the heart of the process of audit and accountability.

More sobering is the suggestion in Dr. Peter Thompson’s article on governance that given the prevailing regulatory trends, it’s possible we will see IT leaders held legally accountable for failures in software systems. Can you say ‘professional engineer’?

jpickett@itworldcanada.com



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