“The proliferation of technology over the past several years has been a huge boon to companies fighting corruption,” says business advisory firm BDO.
Mining companies are using cloud data analytics to turn the tide against corruption.
Like every other industry, the mining sector is undergoing rapid digital transformation as companies race to streamline their operations. Mining businesses are also approaching digital tech as a way to curb corruption and reduce their external dependencies.
To learn more about how anti-corruption initiatives are benefitting from digital transformation, DX Journal caught up with three leaders of BDO’s mining business:
- Nina Gross, leader of BDO’s Global Forensics practice at BDO USA
- Sean Bredin, national mining leader for BDO Canada
- Jeff Harfenist, the co-leader of BDO’s Anti-Corruption practice
DX Journal: What are the top corruption-related challenges facing mining today, and how are companies approaching the risks?
BDO: Unfortunately, corruption continues to persist in mining today for many reasons.
The first has to do with location: Mining companies typically operate in very difficult regions and countries that are often more prone to corruption than others.
Then, there is the fact that the mining industry is not as heavily regulated as other natural resources sectors. In fact, mining regulations are quite decentralized.
Another main driver of corruption is the industry’s dependency on the government for mining licenses and approvals. Mining companies face exposure to many government touchpoints, which increases the risk of bribery and corruption.
To address these risks, mining companies are finding ways to improve transparency with their key stakeholders, and ensure compliance with global human rights and environmental standards. Many are also strengthening their anti-corruption compliance programs by hiring and training more people, improving processes and procedures, and enlisting the help of technology.
DX Journal: How has digital transformation helped to mitigate these challenges?
BDO: While new technologies have transformed every aspect of mining, major advancements in data analytics has revolutionized companies’ ability to detect and mitigate fraud and corruption risk.
By incorporating advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and the internet of things (IoT) into existing systems, mining companies have been able to build powerful business intelligence and enterprise resource planning platforms to help them improve their overall corporate governance and make smarter predictions.
The cloud has also made these technologies much more accessible. Whereas many organizations were unable or unwilling to use predicative analytics before — because it required too much computing power and was expensive — cloud solutions now let miners run tests for one or two months and pay just for the time used.
DX Journal: What are some examples of successful digital transformation efforts you have witnessed in mining?
BDO: One of our clients, Barrick Gold, recently underwent a companywide digital transformation initiative that touched on every aspect of its business — from its mining sites to its Toronto headquarters. To aid its efforts, the company partnered with technology and consulting companies, including Cisco and our team at BDO.
One of our main tasks was to help Barrick Gold improve the transparency of its investment data to maximize the value of its investment portfolio. To do this, we worked with the company’s Investment Management team to implement several reporting dashboards using tools like SQL and Microsoft PowerBI.
These dashboards are intended to be part of an investment-wide analytics hub designed to help employees benchmark the company’s internal and external investment projects, and to achieve greater efficiency, speed, and transparency in their overall tracking, reporting, analysis, and investment decision-making.
DX Journal: What should mining companies consider when implementing new technologies? Are there additional challenges to be aware of?
BDO: Mining companies looking to implement new technologies must be prepared to face many challenges and risks. Most notably, companies must be cautious not to over-rely on technology to solve every problem.
A major reason why many IT projects fail is not due to a lack of technological tools, but a lack of subject matter experts who can work alongside IT vendors to design platforms that will get the desired results.
Technology can only take an organization so far. Companies must continually invest in hiring and training smart professionals so that they can optimize the systems in place.
Finally, companies must ensure they have the proper cybersecurity and information governance frameworks in place to guard against potential cyberattacks and data breaches.
DX Journal: How can companies prepare themselves for emerging technologies, such as Industry 4.0, cloud and IoT?
BDO: Mining companies that want to take advantage of Industry 4.0 and the associated emerging technologies and applications (i.e. sensors, data analytics, the IoT, and AI) need to have a tailored action plan that clearly outlines the organization’s goals, stakeholders, and potential areas for failure.
As mentioned earlier, companies must also be extremely aware of cybersecurity, and the new security challenges that new technological systems, such as the IoT, bring.
As mining companies shift to connected operations, security must be embedded into products from design to distribution. An ideal cybersecurity program is one that focuses on proactive threat intelligence, detection, and rapid response.
DX Journal: What top corruption risks can mining companies expect to face in the next year, and how will technology help them respond?
BDO: Mining companies can expect to continue to face many of the same corruption risks they are facing today in the year ahead.
Political and administrative risks will continue to persist, as mining companies rely on government officials for mining license applications and approvals.
Nevertheless, the advancement and proliferation of technology over the past several years has been a huge boon to companies fighting corruption.
Advanced forensic data analytics can help organizations spot suspicious transactions, arising from anomalous data, as soon as they occur. It is expected that as the technology evolves, companies can use analytics not only to spot current anomalies, but envision potential problematic scenarios and act on predictive trends.
Talent and diversity to drive this year’s Elevate tech festival
The Elevate Tech festival is only one year old, but after watching this week’s launch event at Shopify’s Toronto HQ, it appears that Canada’s largest tech festival has grown by leaps and bounds.
Elevate will run in Toronto from September 24-27, with 10,000 attendees expected and 250 venues taking part. Notable speakers on this year’s main stage will include Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder of dating app Bumble, and environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore.
Celebrating Canada’s talent
This year’s festival will put a big emphasis on talent, one of Canada’s greatest assets when it comes to tech innovation. Elevate is teaming up with Startup Open House, as well as last year’s partners NewCo, to help connect 4,000 students, job-seekers, and young professionals with some of the many great companies driving Canada’s innovation ecosystem.
While last year’s festival made the point of putting Toronto and its tech innovation ecosystem on the global stage, the conversation has broadened for Elevate 2018. Now billed as Canada’s Tech Week, CEO Razor Suleman said the 2018 festival will shed light on Canada’s growing tech landscape as a whole, and even reach out to Canadian expats around the globe, letting them know that things are moving in the right direction back home.
Collaboration, diversity and growing together
For Suleman, the biggest lesson learned from last year’s Elevate, and the biggest opportunity for 2018, is the strength of collaboration that made the festival possible.
“Partnering with the community and being open and collaborative is the best way to create something that we’re all passionate about, and ultimately scale the festival and realize the vision we have,” said Suleman.
Crucial to that collaboration is showing the diverse nature of Canada’s innovation community. Just as at last year’s Elevate, the motto ‘Diversity is our strength’ is key to Canada’s Tech Week. Suleman said that this year’s festival will continue to seek out new ways to reach out to diverse parts of Canada’s innovation community and get them involved.
“This year when we looked at the ten-thousand-person capacity that we have, we broke down the different demographics and wanted to make sure that we got representation. We’re super passionate, as is our parter TD, about involving students. We’ve got the Investor Group coming. We’d love to have more female investors, we’d love to have more women in tech, we’d love to have entrepreneurs that are visible minorities. All of the ecosystem is welcome.”
Between big name speakers, the emphasis on talent and the continued commitment to diversity, Elevate’s 2018 offering is sure to stir creative innovation and collaboration.
Connection Silicon Valley bridges Canadian business and world-class innovation
“I’m incredibly passionate about helping Canadian companies be successful,” she told DX Journal in an interview. “Their success equals success in Canada. Ultimately, what I want to see is Canada on the global innovation stage as a major player.”
For Fedeyko, a native of Northern Alberta, that means creating a bridge between Canadian business and the vibrant culture and approach of Silicon Valley. Through her work with Connection Silicon Valley, she helps Canadian startups, scaleups and corporate clients connect with all the exciting opportunities happening in one of the world’s greatest innovation hubs.
Connecting to the Valley
All of Connection Silicon Valley’s work is to encourage Canadian entrepreneurs and investors to branch out in their thinking a little more and gain a global perspective on their innovative projects and practices.
“I connect startups and corporates into Silicon Valley’s rich tech and innovation ecosystem to help them build and scale their business,” Fedeyko said. “The core of the work that I do is very custom and curated.”
Fedeyko dissects what companies might need, problems they might solve, or who they might need to connect with. “It’s all about custom connections.”
For startups, the biggest thing is funding and investors — but networking with other CEOs and founders can be a huge benefit. Speaking to the right Silicon Valley veteran can help founders determine things like pricing for their product, or even how to avoid a few pitfalls other CEOs have encountered in their previous experiences.
For corporate clients, Fedeyko organizes trips where Canadian companies speak with investors, startups and thought leaders. Through these two-day trips, Canadian companies can learn best where businesses are investing their resources, and get a sense of how to future proof their brand in light of developing technologies.
“When people come down to the Valley, light bulbs go off every single time,” she said. “It’s eye-opening to see the ecosystem, the pace, the energy, the urgency, the plethora of technologies, and the collaborative nature. People have to see it, not just read about it, in order to grab some of the DNA that exists in the Valley.”
HQ2 helps put Canada on the map
Attitudes and perceptions of innovation in the Great White North are changing, both within and outside Canada.
According to @KPMG‘s Global Innovation Report, #Toronto is ranked among the fastest-growing #tech innovation hubs, outpacing Silicon Valley & San Francisco: https://t.co/uXdXERJslG pic.twitter.com/l0Pq0G3WxA
— NEXT Canada (@Next_Canada) April 2, 2018
With Toronto making the shortlist for Amazon’s HQ2, there is a realization that the world is increasingly looking closer at Canada’s immigration policy, its stellar post-secondary institutions and its AI expertise.
Fedeyko says there’s been a subtle shift in how Canadian businesses approach Silicon Valley innovation, but that Amazon’s interest in Canada has been the biggest moment of realization she’s seen so far.
— Invest in Canada (@invest_canada) April 1, 2018
“I think Amazon is one of the best things that could have happened to make Canada wake up.”
The attention and competitive potential of Amazon has shifted the territory for Canadian businesses on the world stage. As the world’s attention turns towards Canadian entrepreneurs and founders, Canadian companies are looking to connect with the excitement of innovation hubs like Silicon Valley, and American founders are looking to get better acquainted with the vibrant world of Canadian tech businesses. That’s where Connection Silicon Valley comes in.
Not a lot of people are doing this kind of work specifically for Canadian companies. For Fedeyko, it’s a question of passion. “I’m really doing it because I love my country and I want everyone to have the same sort of opportunities to connect with Silicon Valley like I do every day.”
Connect with Connection Silicon Valley in Toronto
Part of the Valley experience that Connection Silicon Valley is bringing to Canadians comes in the form of innovation immersion sessions. On April 24, Connection Silicon Valley is hosting a dinner for director-level business leaders to share an open dialogue about how disruption is changing the shape of business, and what’s holding companies back from embracing transformative change. Get your ticket here.
Three big examples of DX culture shift
Digital transformation is not just about technology and big ideas. For digital transformation to be undertaken smoothly, a cultural change, involving all employees, need to take place.
Most headline messages about digital transformation discuss the necessity of switching from legacy systems; avoiding siloed data; and focusing on developing the digital understanding of C-suite executives. What is often missing from the discussion is the need to develop a new culture. This is a culture of innovation, understanding and shared values in order to innovate product and service development.
Analysis by MIT Sloan and Deloitte into business-focused digital successes and failures concluded:
“The history of technological advance in business is littered with examples of companies focusing on technologies without investing in organizational capabilities that ensure their impact. In many companies, (failures are) classic examples of expectations falling short because organizations didn’t change mindsets and processes or build cultures that fostered change.”
The survey also found, as Sloan Review summarizes, that the ability to digitally reimagine the business is a key factor of clear digital strategy. Such organizational vision, supported by leaders, fosters an innovative, change-friendly culture. For this to happen, the workforce needs to willingly and determinedly take on the digital transformation path.
Taking employees on the journey
This means every employee in the company should understand and support collaborative practices, innovation, open culture and adopting a digital-first mindset; plus, having the agility and flexibility, customer centricity to deliver change. Once this is in place a data-driven culture will start to form and new technologies can be steadily adopted.
This means companies need to implement systemic changes in how they organize and develop workforces. Organizations also need to seriously consider how they drive workplace innovation, and work collectively to cultivate digitally-minded cultures and experiences.
As to how this might work in practice, one example is Coca Cola. The company acknowledges that culture change is one of the most difficult aspects of digital transformation to realize.
The soft drinks firm’s digital strategy officer, David Godsman notes that changing culture across the marketing team is the hardest thing Coca-Cola has to tackle as it undergoes the necessary transformation to bring the enterprise into the digital age.
Coca Cola is also attempting to alter its customer focus, acknowledging the need to create personalized experiences for consumers and customers, to fit in with consumers seeking multi-channel experiences and fast mobile access, especially when receiving promotions.
Latitude financial services
A second example of digital transformation with a customer focus is with Latitude financial services. According to Caroline Ruddick, who is the company’s general manager of marketing, there needs to be a twin strategy of developing and improving the customer experience. This shift in strategy, says Ruddick, must be bound to the process of ensuring that employees are responsive to the changes taking place within the organization so they can successful and emphatically offer high quality outfacing services.
Tied up with this is recognition that customers are increasingly more concerned about the experience of dealing with a product or company, seeking an easier, multi-channel offering, and they are less concerned about the actual product, or at least with having any significant loyalty to one product over another.
Adobe provides a third example of a company that has recognized the value of culture change. According to Vision Critical, when Adobe made the decision to transition from physical software to a cloud-based model, the company recognized that it was necessary to shift its employees’ focus towards the the customer.
This was undertaken by developing a staff Experience-a-thon. Adobe had employees role play testing and providing feedback on Adobe portfolio of products, pretending to be customers. This led to an employee engagement strategy and a shift in culture, paving the way for Adobe’s evolution into a cloud company.
These examples demonstrate that the ‘big moment’ for an organization is when it embraces the fact that digital transformation is not a a technical problem to be fixed, but instead it is a cultural change to be enacted through the enterprise.
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