Compliance essentially means sticking to the rules. However, the increasing digitalisation of today‘s companies, enabling them to become intertwined with other companies worldwide in a multitude of trade and cooperation relationships, means the rules are getting trickier. And the impact is felt particularly strongly in IT. Alongside the technical challenges in implementing and integrating your dream ecosystem, there are several laws, regulations, standards – and of course contracts – you need to comply with. And as technology grows and becomes more complex, opening up completely new avenues for your business, this is mirrored by the volume of legislation. Ensuring that you comply with applicable legislation, and the implications this has on data security, is an area which has to be looked into extremely carefully when planning an IT project. Not treating the issues with care and attention can have drastic legal and practical consequences for your organisation, and ultimately its success.
Digitalization is advancing in leaps and bounds, leaving no market out. Regardless of whether you are a large corporation or a freelancer, digital transformation will be turning your business life inside out. New, innovative forms of collaboration are springing up like mushrooms, and technological developments such as blockchain technology, cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence, digital platforms, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are opening up previously unimagined possibilities. However, this is why it is absolutely crucial to have solid IT security and compliance policies. Naturally to protect sensitive customer and company data, but also to ensure services are secure throughout your organisation.
IT security and compliance for B2B platforms
B2B platforms connect a company’s IT systems with those of business partners, clients and suppliers. Integrating these technologies often involves grappling with complex legal and security issues. With employees, providers, customers and third parties connected to your systems, access to user data, intellectual property and sensitive company information needs to be regulated and secured. And nowadays, this is at a global level. Professional B2B platform providers are experts in the relevant current laws and regulations as well as the technology which can be used to comply with them. Furthermore:
- B2B platforms, such as SEEBURGER‘s Business Integration Suite (BIS) provide a solid foundation for consolidating your business processes.
- Managed File Transfer (MFT) ensures that confidential, sensitive files can be transferred securely between systems or people.
- Enterprise Application Integration, including API technologies enables your systems, applications and cloud services to securely and reliably talk to one another – in real time.
- Legal and security aspects are guaranteed through a certified robust information and security management system. We will be taking a closer look at this later.
- Industry-specific electronic data interchange (EDI) solutions for B2B means that you can securely exchange business documents according to the security standards in your specific industry – and on boarding business partners is surprisingly quick and simple,
- E-Invoicing is increasingly becoming a requirement in both B2G and B2B transactions. A good B2B platform not only supports the various international and local requirements for digital billing, but also ensures that your e-invoices comply with the relevant legislation on format, clearing, etc.
Using a B2B platform from an experienced, professional provider is a hassle-free way of ensuring that a number of legal and security concerns are automatically recognised and dealt with – leaving you to focus on what your business does best.
IT security and compliance for cloud computing
In order to be able to fully exploit all that digital transformation can offer an organisation, a company often needs to start by getting their IT architecture and internal IT processes in order. Solid, secure yet agile IT infrastructure is the basis for reliable, efficient processes, both in-house and beyond. For don’t forget, digitalizing not only lets you offer your customers better, more personalised care, it also opens up new and exciting ways of doing business.
The beauty of cloud computing is that it allows you to react more quickly to market needs and demands, be that through scaling IT capacity, or booking one of the many as a Service offerings, including Software as a Service. As you can imagine, however, cloud computing, including its Everything as a Service model (XaaS) places extremely high demands on both IT security and compliance. Firms should look out for certification in information security standards such as ISO 27001 , ISAE 3402 or TISAX when choosing external IT service providers. Equally, implementing their own Information Security Management System (ISMS) helps an organisation ensure that they are complying with relevant laws and regulations themselves, not least the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations). Companies can then go through the certification process for one or more of the information security standards above. This not only gives you a ‛seal of approval’ to show the outside world that you’re on top of IT security and compliance issues. As going through the certification and auditing process helps ensure that your IT measures really are watertight, this gives your organisation confidence that you’re doing the right things.
IT security and compliance along the digital value chain
The digital processes along the value chain – whether in product development, production, logistics, maintenance, customer care or elsewhere -all involve a number of actors, generally worldwide. Although we still speak of supply and value chains, these days they’re more global, interconnected ecosystems. They provide or analyse data for various different users around the world. Many innovative business models based on digital processes between various actors are only possible thanks to end-to-end data logistics. An Omni channel marketing approach relies on the seamless, real time interaction of all channels involved, as well as a consolidation of data and business processes. This naturally needs to include consideration of and compliance with a wealth of both legislation and contractual stipulations regarding how parties work together, IT security, the security of the various processes and data protection. International standards and regulations on cross-border transactions often present companies with enormous challenges.
IT security and compliance for industry 4.0, IoT and big data
For industry 4.0, the Internet of Things (IoT) or big data, analysing corporate, personal or machine data is often an integral part of their innovative digital business models. However, integrating networked products and resources into existing processes, IT system environments and business ecosystems is complex. In order to turn the full potential of data into real, tangible business value without getting into legal difficulties, data must be protected and processes standardized. This involves complying with complex legislation and regulations. For example, standardized data structures and communication standards such as OPC UA ensure secure data exchange and uniform communication between business partners, systems, and machines. Certificates, encryption and digital signatures reliably protect against legal violations and data misuse.
IT security and compliance for blockchain technology
A system that, simply put, securely records and verifies a series of transactions between a number of actors, blockchain technology is now being used in a wide range of ways. As well as for financial transactions, they’re used to make a full, immutable record of the origin and journey of tangible items such as expensive manufacturing components or luxury goods, such as watches, jewellery and valuable artwork. It’s even been used to sell internet memes. As any changes made by a participant are timestamped, captured and documented by all future nodes, yet still inherently and immutably linked to the previous blocks, its strong transparency and traceability means that this technology is extremely tamper-proof. These qualities, particularly its immutability, are even making smart contracts possible, where terms are agreed between two parties and automatically executed when met. As you can imagine, blockchain technology has particularly high and complex security and compliance demands, often with challenging legal questions to be considered.
Keeping track of all the laws and regulations your organisation’s IT needs to comply with is tricky. There are country-specific and industry-specific stipulations. Contracts with clients, suppliers and partners – probably worldwide. And corporate regulations from HQ, too. When planning new IT projects, you need to consider at the outset what legal and technical expertise you will need to enable your desired outcome – and where this expertise will come from. And of course, it doesn’t end with the end of a project. The speed of technical innovation and the sheer breadth of real world use cases means that regulations pertaining to IT are frequently overhauled or added to, – often pretty quickly.
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Written by: Rolf HolickiRolf Holicki, Director BU E-Invoicing, SAP&Web Process, is responsible for the SAP/WEB applications. He has more than 25 years of experience in e-invoicing, SAP, Workflow and business process automation. Rolf Holicki has been with SEEBURGER since 2005.