Modern software applications – benefits & risks



A day last week looking at IBM’s websphere brought home to me how advances in software have really brought value to enterprises in three particular respects:

  1. Functional business users  (in Marketing for example) can now make changes to complex systems themselves using very friendly user interfaces – no knowledge of computer code is necessary
  2. The speed of changes can now be more or less instant – no need to raise change requests for an IT department to schedule. Pricing changes or sales campaigns for example can therefore be set up or amended instantly.
  3. Individuals with access to your website system have access to very large data sets including invaluable real time data

Turning to implications for Corporate Governance I sense that an increased premium is put on both corporate controls and capability building. For example:

  • Personal security – do you background check your people?
  • IT security – thoughtful review of the access privileges granted to individuals and moreover how these are appropriately restricted and withdrawn when individuals change roles or leave the enterprise. Where you are obtaining software as a service over the web, does someone in your organisation have responsibility for ensuring individuals access is removed when they leave?
  • Close monitoring of the variances in volumes and pricing so the CFO and Board are not caught by surprise. Whilst I am not suggesting every organisation will have the sort of exposure UBS suffered from an errant trader, the individuals with access to your ecommerce web IT systems have an ability to alter prices much more easily then in the days of physical price lists.
  • Are the appropriate skills being developed amongst those using your systems to exploit their capabilities?
  • Do you have sufficiently analytical people in the right place to turn the system data into management insights and the processes to share the information with management and indeed the macro trends with your board?



Lets rise to IBM’s slogan of building a smarter planet!


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