IFRS, SSAE, now whats next?

In the auditing and compliance world, the buzzwords right now are IFRS and SSAE. IFRS stands for Internaltional Financial Reporting Standard and SSAE stands for Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagement. They both gear towards standardizing the laws which is necessary looking at the current nature of Business. In my opinion, Globalization and Outsourcing are two major catalysts for standardization.

In the Technology world servers/infrastructure will soon become obselete. A lot of companies has already started using SaaS (Software as a service) and PaaS (Platform as a service) along with SOA (Service Oriented Architecture).  The world of cloud computing is next in line. Now the question arises what does these all mean for compliance? Saas had a simple solution for compliance – SLAs (Service Level Agreements). But with cloud computing its totally a different story.

Let me start by giving a brief background on cloud computing –

According to Wikipedia, Cloud computing refers to the use of Internet (“cloud”) based computer technology for a variety of services. In layman’s terms, it means you don’t have your own processing / storage / both and use a provider like Amazon or Google for it. There are mainly four different categories where an enterprise can use cloud computing

  1. Applications,
  2. Messaging,
  3. Storage and
  4. Raw Computing.

Cloud computing has its own benefits and risks. Benefits inlcude lower capital expenses, innovation, scalability and performance. Compliance is the biggest risk because you have servers anywhere in the world that will either process/store your information and give back the results. And it is so dynamic in nature that it is not processed/stored at one single location. Anywho, the benefits are ten fold using this technology and I am sure we will come up with a solution. In short, cloud compliance is going to be the next big thing.

Context – the next wave in Information Management

It is true in life but truer in technology that change is the only constant. Let’s take information management. The focus of information management has been constantly changing since the early days. It all started with the twin problems of capturing complete information and processing its faster and more accurately. Then came the era where efficient information storage and retrieval was an issue. Relational Databases, normalization and increase in storage capacity at the hardware level solved that problem. Bigger storage capacity and smaller physical size have now given birth to a new disorder which needs to be handled. Metaphorically, we now have big rooms, big binders which have covers and tabs. We have a good book-keeping method by which we can search the binder(s) efficiently but there is still a lack of context to all these. To use another metaphor, systems and applications have taken the place of ministers in the court of the king – you, the user. Their job is to provide you with information in a precise manner to support decision making. The only difference is that the ministers of the old could process all the information and present to the king only those pieces which were relevant in solving the problem being discussed. Today’s systems and applications can no doubt provide data faster and with greater accuracy but they lack context. Giving context to the data is an important challenge faced by decision makers today.