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A practical guide to understanding digital risk

Part of digital transformation is learning to be a better risk manager

Digital risk management

Every day, each of us manages risk in many contexts: our physical safety (driving), ROI (purchasing a new appliance), consequences of decisions (job search). We make countless other risk-based decisions unconsciously: “Cross the street? Not yet—that car’s coming too fast!” When it comes to our own health, the COVID-19 crisis has been a 24/7 reminder of the same idea.

While we are constantly working to stay on top of tangible threats and risks we’re aware of, it’s easy to forget how everything around us—and on our person—is connected in our risk management ecosystem. The products inside these activities—websites, cars, appliances, job search tools—have been and will continue to be reinvented, or “digitally transformed,” bringing us better connected services, experiences and innovations—and new avenues for potential threats or mistakes.

Let’s face it, digital transformation was already necessary for most businesses, based on competitive pressures. Now, it is a necessity for many as the pandemic causes turmoil in business models, revenue streams, workforces, and supply chains. With remote work and distance learning as the new normal, it is both important and timely for all of us to become risk-literate. As individuals and professionals, we can ensure we’re upholding best practices at home and protecting our organizations from potential harm.

To do that, we need to identify what risks we face, understand how they might affect us, and know what we can do to make and support risk-informed decisions. Adopting this risk-savvy mindset will help us reap the benefits of transformation, while minimizing the pitfalls of everyday risks we may not even know we—and our organizations—are exposed to.

Everyone should get comfortable with topics like privacy, cyber, and reputational risk at a practical level. Digital Transformation and Risk for Dummies, an e-book published by ServiceNow and Wiley, can help you get started understanding the impact of digital risk.

As employees, we contribute daily to risk management, considering risk as we act and acting when we see a risk. It’s why we as employees go through yearly risk, compliance, and security training—risk-informed decisions are critical to keeping our orgs safe.

Some of us are in a position to manage risk as line of business owners, product managers, IT staff, and C-levels. And all of us consume services whose risks we really should understand—it is our personal privacy, safety, and happiness at stake. A whole chapter, Digital Risk 101, summarizes the flavors of risk, with simple examples we can each relate to.

If you are a risk professional, we hope you’ll get some fresh ideas in the chapter, “Managing Digital Risk.” It includes designing for resiliency and contextualizing risk for your stakeholders. We also suggest you pass the book along to your colleagues, your board, and your team. It should foster constructive conversations about protecting and enabling the company’s digital transformation. By connecting risk decision-makers across your enterprise, as well as vertically within organizations, you can create alignment and improve your ability to decide and execute. This efficiency is crucial as the pandemic forces action—whether for crisis management, business continuity, or digital reinvention.

The last chapter, “Five Tips for Digital Transformation Risk,” encourages a safe journey. We cover how to set the pace, juggle the work, measure your progress, be efficient, and remain agile in the face of change.

Risk literacy is an essential topic for lifelong learning in our age of transformation. While keeping up with managing risk at the speed of innovation can be daunting, each of us can learn and acquire the basic skills it takes to protect ourselves and our organizations as we voyage through the new normal.

The key is to get started. We hope you’ll enjoy and share the e-book. Risk literacy is just 44 pages away.