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Always keep a human in the loop during automated compliance reporting

By Ramprakash Ramamoorthy, Director of Research at ManageEngine

As machine learning and AI-based decision-making models continue to improve, more and more jobs are becoming automated. Many executives believe that the majority of tasks within sales, accounting, HR, content marketing, and data coordination will be automated within a decade.

This future automation will not necessarily result in job displacement. According to a recent study from Wharton professors, robotic adoption is likely to increase productivity and result in the hiring of more employees. As a caveat, the scholars do note that fewer of these hires will be in managerial positions.

Conducted in late 2021, ManageEngine's global IT service management survey, The State of ITSM: Two Years into the Pandemic, suggests that more automation will be used throughout IT operations in the near future; 59% of respondents from that survey believe that the pandemic's impact on ITSM practices will result in more automation.

Moreover, it is important to note that this automation is not being forced upon unwilling participants. For the most part, employees enjoy using AI in their current jobs; a 2022 Gartner survey reveals that roughly 70% of American consumers want to use AI in their jobs. According to that survey, respondents wanted to use AI to reduce mistakes (58%), solve problems (57%), discover information (56%), and simplify processes (56%).

It appears quite likely that the future will be filled with human-in-the-loop (HITL) automation, whereby repetitive tasks and data coordination are automated, and humans remain in the workflow at certain stages for quality assurance. For those tasks that can have long-lasting financial, legal, and reputational repercussions, businesses absolutely must keep a human in the loop. This is especially true when it comes to compliance reporting.

See the full picture by automating compliance reports

With compliance regulations changing rapidly, it's important that administrators, auditors, and one's legal counsel are all on the same page. By using AI-based models, it's easy for organizations to automate both the generation and the scheduling of compliance reports. Depending on the compliance standard-be it SOX, HIPPA, PCI DSS, GDPR, FISMA, GLBA, ISO 27001, or something else-there are different requisite inputs, many of which are subject to changing legislation.

Unfortunately, many organizations only conduct audits once a year. These yearly audits often fail to provide a full picture, given that they are point-in-time snapshots. Auditors can see a more comprehensive picture via HITL automation.

With HITL automation, models can be programmed to take snapshots of the company's most recent security settings and configurations. These snapshots can be taken as often as desired. Theoretically, it's possible to send reports to auditors and other stakeholders daily, hourly, or every minute. By maintaining a historical, documented record of your system, one can be sure that their organization's security settings aren't changing.

Automating compliance reports is extremely convenient for all the parties involved: auditors don't need to ask administrators to generate reports for them, as theses AI-based models can be formatted so that emails are automatically sent; moreover, admins don't have to worry about manually formatting the various reports, as these models ensure that the reports follow a standard format and structure. The formatting, scheduling, and delivery of these reports can all be automated.

Ensure that all reports are secured

Given that compliance reports contain security-related information, it is imperative that these reports remain secure. If a report were to land in the hands of a bad actor, the results could be catastrophic.

Once compliance reports are generated, they should be stored in a secure folder, which can only be accessed by approved IT, security, legal, and audit personnel. An effective software tool can be programmed to automatically send alerts to the system administrator if the permissions were to change on that folder.

Compliance reporting is most efficient with human-in-the-loop automation

With effective HITL automation tools, compliance reporting is easier than ever. Auditors can see full historical records, rather than a series of moment-in-time snapshots of the system. Administrators can standardize the formatting of their reports, and they can also automate delivery times, while ensuring that these reports are safely stored and protected.

AI-based compliance reporting increases transparency, allows for customization, and saves auditors and system administrators a great deal of time. All that said, it's paramount that humans are kept in the loop for quality assurance. By staying involved in the process, IT personnel can periodically monitor data for accuracy. Also, AI transparency is key, as one needs to be able to show and explain how the automation works in the event of an audit.

It's great to automate data coordination, email scheduling, and other routine tasks; however, the most important parts of almost any workflow-approvals, decision-making, quality assurance, and gauging data accuracy-must remain in the hands of humans.

When it comes to automated compliance reporting, the stakes are too high to not keep a human in the loop.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ramprakash Ramamoorthy 

Ramprakash Ramamoorthy leads the AI and blockchain efforts for ManageEngine and Zoho. He is in charge of implementing strategic and powerful AI features at ManageEngine to help provide an array of IT management products well-suited for enterprises of any size. You can reach the author on LinkedIn.

Published Tuesday, July 19, 2022 7:31 AM by David Marshall
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