The 2014 GRC Technology Innovation Awards was filled with competition.   Nominations increased to 62 over last year’s awards, and fifteen winners were selected.  GRC 20/20 looked through all of the submissions, asked for clarification where needed, and selected 15 recipients that demonstrated outside the box thinking in taking GRC in new directions to receive this year’s award.

ACL Integrates Automated GRC Monitoring with Proactive Surveys & Questionnaires

In November 2013, ACL delivered an innovation that combines the concepts of management assurance and audit assurance to structurally shift what is considered “data” in the context of measuring risk and control activities in assurance activities. They have created an intuitive and elegant approach to combine data analytics with surveys and questionnaires to provide stronger assurance and automation.

At a tactical level, this innovation revolutionizes the way a GRC professional is able to address problems around control monitoring, compliance violations, and policy violation. It meaningfully blends the capabilities of data analytics with surveying to provide the analyst with a simple, integrated toolkit for monitoring and remediation.

At a strategic level, this innovation structurally shifts and aligns “human data” with “systems data”, effectively allowing the GRC analyst to treat populations of people as a data source. With the ability to seamlessly blend “human data” with “systems data”, a new world of analysis is possible to identify red flags, as well as serve as the basis for rich visualization of blended data.

Prior to this innovation, control monitoring and other data analytics were loosely integrated into broader GRC risk & control platforms and GRC architecture. Results of analytics were often simply attached as files to serves as control evidence. This new approach fully integrates into a unified GRC architecture with analytics so GRC evaluations, assessments, and decisions can be made seamlessly in real-time using the most up-to-date information available in the organization. Introducing the surveying/questionnaire piece allows ACL users to feed the same control monitoring engine with survey data (“human data”) and drive the same remediation actions as could be done from transactional data.

The core functionality of the technology is to take the results of control monitoring analytics and bring those into a centralized, easy-to-use web environment where it is integrated into the overall GRC information and process architecture. It provides an intuitive questionnaire builder to develop questionnaires when a “trigger” condition happens that allows for automatic triggering of questionnaires based on data analysis criteria. It blends data analysis records with the questionnaire results to provide a consolidated dataset that the organization may use to drive remediation, act as control evidence, or provide executive reporting.

The key technical functionality is the “Big Data” engine that lies at the heart of the ACL GRC Results Manager module. This data engine uses an innovative data store that is capable of storing unstructured and arbitrary data. This is critical for several reasons but primarily because 1) organization need to analyze different types of data that a traditional database system cannot effectively ingest the “arbitrary” data needed for analysis, 2) these organizations need to be able to “blend” a transaction record with a survey response on the fly without doing traditional database table joins, and 3) the ability operate at cloud scale to drive the fastest performance and response times. Layered on top of the big data engine is ACL GRC’s development stack and intuitive user interface built in HTML5, CSS3, and high performance JavaScript. The overall solution is not just functional on a new level but brilliant in its intuitiveness and ease of use.

To learn more about the GRC 20/20 2014 GRC Innovation Awards and other recipients, please visit this post: GRC 20/20 Announces 2014 GRC Innovation Award Recipients

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