3 technology trends affecting businesses

July 10, 2019

Technological advancement is a constant and organizations must adjust to these changes. There are a number of trends shaping technology, but only a few will affect a number of Canadian businesses. These trends will have long-lasting effects and continue to impact the business world for years to come.

GDPR compliance

Canadian companies must be compliant with the European Union's privacy legislation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). While GDPR has been in effect for more than a year, small and medium-sized businesses may be vulnerable to potential fines and penalties.

For example, GDPR emphasizes that any collected data must be made anonymous to protect the privacy of individuals. However, organizations of this size might not have the capital or the resources to implement this type of technology. Multiple departments must also be in sync with each other to ensure the business is compliant with the regulation.

Policies and procedures may need to be changed due to the new requirements, and new technologies may have to be used to ensure privacy and protection. The increased compliance and regulatory requirements will also make it difficult for organizations to use data to make business decisions.

To become compliant, organizations should do the following:

  • There should be an identification of where personal information resides. Once found, security controls should be put in place to ensure protection of all personal identifiable information (PII).
  • Policies and procedures should be revisited and modified (where necessary), and regular privacy audits should be conducted to ensure controls are in place and aligned with the regulation.
  • Management of access to data should cover third parties and contractors, and documentation should be followed to ensure accountability.

Digital transformation and strategy evolution

Digital transformation isn't just technology, it's about the interconnectedness of an organization through its people, processes, and technology. There's been an evolution over the last 20 years of how IT purchases are made. This has resulted in a shift where digital transformation is in the hands of non-tech leaders instead of only the IT department. This change was driven by the increased simplicity and accessibility of software as a service (SAAS) solutions.

The cost of a digital transformation is becoming less expensive to implement and can help small businesses scale up more quickly. It can also help businesses develop deeper customer relationships because consumers are more digitally savvy than ever.

To make a digital transformation more successful, organizations should take the following steps:

  • Have senior executives lead the transformation because it needs to be aligned to the business strategy.
  • Understand where the company is in terms of its strengths, weaknesses, and constraints in order to determine what needs to be done before a transformation can begin.
  • Have long-term goals with short-term priorities because moving the needle slowly is the best approach. But be ready to make course corrections as the plan will likely change.

The role of AI in cybersecurity

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology is the future for businesses. It can reduce an organization's costs and improve efficiencies. But there are also challenges with AI. Building and maintaining an AI-based system requires a tremendous amount of resources when it comes to cybersecurity. AI systems are trained with data, meaning that new datasets of both malicious and non-malicious codes must be fed to the system regularly in order for it to learn.

AI can help criminals access social media sites for personal information, which allows phishing attack emails to be easily modified and resulting in confidential data more likely to be disclosed. AI is also capable of increasing the scale of resistance of a system having ongoing attacks, which could result in the increase of attacks. And incidents may go undetected for a long period of time due to an absence of human involvement.

AI has a long way to go before it can become a standalone security solution. To maintain effective security standards, organizations should:

  • Hire cybersecurity professionals with niche skills to test systems and networks for vulnerabilities and fix them pre-emptively.
  • Implement firewalls and malware scanners, and conduct regular audits of hardware and software to monitor the health of systems.
  • Work proactively with cybersecurity experts to create recovery strategies, such as encrypting all organizational data and setting alerts for outgoing data.

BDO can help

Our team of professionals can help your business with issues related to GDPR, digital transformation, and cybersecurity. Contact us to find out what we can do for you.

Vivek Gupta
National Cybersecurity Leader
Kyle Hulme
National Lead Digital Strategy
Eric Matusiak
Partner, National Retail Leader
Peter Matutat
Partner, National Technology & Life Sciences Leader