Too Many Compliance Specialists Rely on Search Engines – and that’s a Problem
November 11, 2020
Global compliance teams have an unusual, even relaxed stance on search engine use by their companies.
If anything, compliance specialists are too reliant on the Internet, especially with the use of search engines in conducting their internal due diligence.
According to one industry study, 85% of compliance officers have used Google to conduct internal due diligence and regulatory oversight.
It’s not just Google.
Companies seeking more information about compliance issues, tactics and strategies understandably turn to internet search engines for information. Popular search engine platforms like Google, Bing, and Yahoo are free, extremely user-friendly, and highly pervasive in the information gathering market.
While intriguing in theory (who doesn’t like millions of pieces of information in one place), that’s where the benefits end for compliance managers and staffers who rely on search engines for data. The reality is that by using Google or Bing for compliance information gathering, a compliance officer is taking a big risk that could lead to this type of scenario.
– Bad data/information culled from Google is used in company policy.
– That information is found to be erroneous and thus the resulting compliance policy is poisoned.
– Word gets out, and regulators swoop in with allegations that lead to charges, penalties and damages to a company’s brand.
The Risks Associated with Using Search Engines for Compliance Information
To get a stronger grip on why internet search engines should be avoided when conducting compliance information campaigns, compliance officers need to understand the biggest risks when using Internet search engines for compliance purposes:
Data gained is not really usable. Perhaps the biggest reason why search engines are so inefficient for compliance data gathering reasons is that the information is usually flawed and inherently untrustworthy for professional regulatory management decisions.
Why? Because the raw data in hundreds of separate web-based compliance documents don’t typically yield the high-level data required for a company internal compliance purposes. Most web-based compliant data is irrelevant, duplicative, or goes challenged by the compliance community.
That combination makes for a weak harvest for any compliance team member scrolling through Google for useful data.
But that display of information power works against a company compliance team member looking for key information. Issues like policy, credibility, and the inside baseball viewpoints and data on regulatory issues often require nuance and context. Thus, the time spent in drilling down into millions of works of raw content is wasted when Google is the primary source of a compliance team’s data gathering efforts.
Bias-based inconsistencies. By their automated nature, internet search engines can throw a compliance team member’s internet search out of whack, leading to inconsistent and risk-laden results.
Internet searches have a built-in bias towards a user’s historical use on the web, perceived preferences in issues and results, and where the internet search originated (i.e., Boston, Brussels or Bombay.) Search engines seek to satisfy an end user and deliver search engine results on that user’s historical web preferences – which may not match the intended search query.
That should be a big red flag to compliance officers who tolerate the use of search engines in conducting internal regulatory analysis.
Good compliance information and data doesn’t have a preference. Instead, it should deliver the facts on the ground needed for company compliance teams to make prudent, bias-free decisions when crafting a firm’s regulatory strategy. Too often, an online search engine’s built-in biases gets in the way of that strategy.
Search engines are dynamic in nature – and that’s not always good for compliance policies. One of the upsides of online search engines like Google is that it updates information on the platform on a regular basis. In fact, internet search results change by the second.
Fast algorithms, however, aren’t usually compatible with company compliance policy-crafting. In key areas like consumer privacy, quality control, conformance with regulatory rules and resulting testing and reviews, what the Internet is telling you today what it may not be telling you tomorrow.
That scenario puts company compliance decisions at great risk, and puts a company who relies on Google or Bing searches squarely in the eyes of regulatory bodies who insist that companies have rock-solid compliance policies in place.
AI Points to a Better Way
There are plenty of third-party providers who specialize in breaking down critical compliance data, based on the unique needs of a company looking to leverage that data for successful compliance outcomes.
That’s particularly the case with data providers who use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools to filter through, prioritize, deliver, and store the exact compliance information needed by their corporate partners.
Sure, those companies may pay a bigger upfront fee to access that third-party information gathering expertise.
But to paraphrase that Fram Oil Filter commercial from the 1970s – you can pay a trusted data provider now – or pay a regulatory agency a lot more later, if you keep using digital search engines for your corporate compliance needs.