Pulling it all together: A special report on GRC

An in-depth look at what GRC can do, and what it should do, to help manage risk

I like the concept of governance, risk and compliance (GRC) for two reasons. One reason is completely tactical, the other completely conceptual. First, the tactical: compliance complexity reduction. This garbled regulatory compliance landscape is madness. Madness! Every year for six years running, more than half of our State of the CSO survey respondents have said they will spend an increasing amount of time on regulatory compliance work.

Yes, it's possible to try to map your own controls to the peculiar set of regulatory regimes you must observe, but surely that time can be better spent elsewhere? Better to have an out-of-the-box approach. That's something GRC tools promise to help with.

Second, the conceptual: Security calls for ambition. Big ideas. GRC--not just the software but the process--is a big idea. The C (compliance) aspect is more mature than the G and the R, but the attempt to measure and mitigate Risk through better Governance is where the greater value of these efforts ultimately will lie. GRC can inform and work hand-in-glove with the broad Enterprise Risk Management initiatives of which I am an unabashed fan and cheerleader.

GRC has been aptly described as "a process backstopped by technology." In this special report (originally published as CSO's Digital Spotlight on GRC), we look at both elements.

Bob Violino digs into the software offerings in Trying to take the bite out of risk, and two veteran security leaders offer their perspective on the directions in which GRC software can grow to fulfill its promise in What's next for GRC. Also read implementation tips from members of the gated CISO community Wisegate in Been there, done that and the case study What's the business case for GRC?.

A common theme in all these stories is this: Don't forget process. Process is primary. GRC implementations work when they are built on a solid foundation of intelligent organization.

This is a familiar refrain from the early days of another ambitious IT paradigm, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). You have to put in the necessary pre-work and pull it all together to get the rewards that the software can offer.

Read more about data protection in CSOonline's Data Protection section.

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