February 22, 2023 | Tim Ward
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
5 ways to be innovative in regulatory compliance
The word innovation is derived from the Latin verb “innovare,” which means to renew. Today, we think of innovation as a way to improve or replace something, for example, a process, a product, or a service.
What does the word innovation mean to you? When was the last time you truly witnessed innovation happen before your eyes? What companies do you associate with innovation – perhaps Apple, Tesla, or Netflix?
If you asked one hundred people at your firm which department innovates the most, how many people would say Compliance, Legal or Risk? Not many right? But at CUBE, we see compliance teams innovate all the time and once the first breakthrough has been made, the same firms want to push the boundaries of what is possible even further. This is what drives us at CUBE, to partner with our customers to tackle regulatory change management in a smarter way. Using the latest technology, processes and techniques that work to make a real difference.
There is no doubt that the area of regulatory compliance is ripe for innovation. Thousands of issuing bodies produce billions of regulatory words to form rules, bills, regulations, commentary, and guidance. Often not in English and constantly changing. Using manual processes is time-consuming and error-prone. Technology can help in so many ways. However, implementing change and disrupting the status quo can sometimes be challenging and take time.
Existing components in new combinations
Innovation does not always mean creating something brand new. Innovation can be taking an existing process and approaching it in a different way. Or creating a new process but using existing tools. Innovation can be about the fusion of existing ideas and capabilities.
The “invention” of the iPhone is a great example. Nobody can question the impact the launch of the iPhone had on the mobile market. It changed the way people made calls, accessed the internet, and completed a range of productivity tasks. But when you break down the iPhone, it was as much about bringing together different existing technologies such as touchscreens, micro-antennae, miniature solid-state hard drives and operating system software as it was about creating something brand new.
Steve Jobs thought that existing phones suffered from poor design, low-quality screens, and a lack of features – particularly with regard to performing Internet-related tasks. The genius of the iPhone was the ambition to solve this problem in a new way using technology that already existed but integrating it in a package that had never been done before. Of course, Apple’s passion for the aesthetic, coupled with its supreme design and technology capabilities helped adopt and secure the type of price tag that made our eyes water.
Innovation is a mindset
Innovation is not about technical skill or design or engineering – innovation is a mindset. Innovators are curious, consciously, and subconsciously joining the dots and questioning the status quo. Take CUBE’s origin story as an example. Ben Richmond, our CEO, realised that in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, there would be a huge amount of new regulation. Firms would find it difficult to process and interpret these new laws. Ben took his previous experiences in capturing, processing and enriching content, combined this experience with the latest artificial intelligence techniques and applied them to the regulatory domain. The resulting solution just didn’t exist in the market at the time, but now helps thousands of users around the world manage regulatory change.
Five tips for innovation
So, how can you increase your ability to innovate? After analysing hundreds of innovative companies, individuals, and products, we have put together this short list to help you innovate in your team, department, or company.
1. Challenge the status quo
Don’t accept that the current way of doing something is the best way just because the existing method has been in place for a long time. Ask yourself – “How could I make this better?” at regular opportunities to spark new ideas. Don’t give up either, if you are passionate about an idea, then find ways to convince others to help you try it out. Enthusiasm and positivity go a long way in getting your colleagues and senior managers on board.
2. Go to where the work gets done
Innovation often occurs at the heart of where the actual tasks are getting completed. Watch how the work gets done and ask lots of questions to those performing the work or even spend a day performing these tasks yourself. Is there a duplication of effort? Are there unnecessary steps? Wasted motion or resources? Use both qualitative and quantitative data to uncover opportunities.
3. Inspiration from unusual places
Some of the best ideas occur when you are outside of your usual surroundings. When you see examples of innovation at home, on the journey to the office or in your leisure activities, ask yourself, “Could I apply this idea at work?” You will be surprised how easy it is to connect seemingly distant concepts to your own day-to-day activities.
4. No idea is a stupid idea
Give yourself and your team a license to have crazy ideas and before dismissing them immediately, write them down, and spend a few more seconds thinking them through. Even if the core idea would never work, perhaps it could be adapted, or it may trigger a more realistic idea. Go back to your idea list regularly. Are some of those ideas as crazy as you first thought – or with a bit of work, perhaps some of them might just be worth pursuing.
When you think you have found a good idea, find a way to experiment to see if the idea is viable, provides the results you anticipated and doesn’t have unwanted side effects. Keep the experiments small in the first instance and get regular feedback. If the idea looks promising, increase the size of the experiments until you are confident and can provide evidence to your colleagues to get further support. Be prepared for some of your ideas to fail and ensure that you take a scientific approach when analysing the results.
Creating and talking about ideas is infectious. Once you start, you will find your colleagues offering up ideas of their own and then combining them to form weird and wonderful new combinations.
Work with innovative technology partners
When choosing technology partners, it is also important to consider whether the firm you are considering can demonstrate they are an innovator. For a successful long-term partnership, it is good to know that the firm you are working with can adapt to change, create new ideas, find ways to solve problems and create value for you and your customers.
At CUBE, we are passionate about using technology to help firms manage regulatory change and to make the lives of regulatory compliance professionals easier. This could range from applying the latest artificial intelligence techniques to adding a new feature to make content easier to review. Regulations never stay still and neither does the geo-political, technological and economic landscape that influences them. We believe innovation is a key characteristic to ensure that our products are relevant and useful for years to come.
Keep ahead of emerging regulations with CUBE.