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Mining tackles corruption with analytics

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“The proliferation of technology over the past several years has been a huge boon to companies fighting corruption,” says business advisory firm BDO.

Mining companies are using cloud data analytics to turn the tide against corruption.

Like every other industry, the mining sector is undergoing rapid digital transformation as companies race to streamline their operations. Mining businesses are also approaching digital tech as a way to curb corruption and reduce their external dependencies.

To learn more about how anti-corruption initiatives are benefitting from digital transformation, DX Journal caught up with three leaders of BDO’s mining business:

  • Nina Gross, leader of BDO’s Global Forensics practice at BDO USA
  • Sean Bredin, national mining leader for BDO Canada
  • Jeff Harfenist, the co-leader of BDO’s Anti-Corruption practice

DX Journal: What are the top corruption-related challenges facing mining today, and how are companies approaching the risks?

BDO: Unfortunately, corruption continues to persist in mining today for many reasons.

The first has to do with location: Mining companies typically operate in very difficult regions and countries that are often more prone to corruption than others.

Then, there is the fact that the mining industry is not as heavily regulated as other natural resources sectors. In fact, mining regulations are quite decentralized.

Another main driver of corruption is the industry’s dependency on the government for mining licenses and approvals. Mining companies face exposure to many government touchpoints, which increases the risk of bribery and corruption.

To address these risks, mining companies are finding ways to improve transparency with their key stakeholders, and ensure compliance with global human rights and environmental standards. Many are also strengthening their anti-corruption compliance programs by hiring and training more people, improving processes and procedures, and enlisting the help of technology.

DX Journal: How has digital transformation helped to mitigate these challenges?

BDO: While new technologies have transformed every aspect of mining, major advancements in data analytics has revolutionized companies’ ability to detect and mitigate fraud and corruption risk.

By incorporating advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and the internet of things (IoT) into existing systems, mining companies have been able to build powerful business intelligence and enterprise resource planning platforms to help them improve their overall corporate governance and make smarter predictions.

The cloud has also made these technologies much more accessible. Whereas many organizations were unable or unwilling to use predicative analytics before — because it required too much computing power and was expensive — cloud solutions now let miners run tests for one or two months and pay just for the time used.

DX Journal: What are some examples of successful digital transformation efforts you have witnessed in mining?

BDO: One of our clients, Barrick Gold, recently underwent a companywide digital transformation initiative that touched on every aspect of its business — from its mining sites to its Toronto headquarters. To aid its efforts, the company partnered with technology and consulting companies, including Cisco and our team at BDO.

One of our main tasks was to help Barrick Gold improve the transparency of its investment data to maximize the value of its investment portfolio. To do this, we worked with the company’s Investment Management team to implement several reporting dashboards using tools like SQL and Microsoft PowerBI.

These dashboards are intended to be part of an investment-wide analytics hub designed to help employees benchmark the company’s internal and external investment projects, and to achieve greater efficiency, speed, and transparency in their overall tracking, reporting, analysis, and investment decision-making.

DX Journal: What should mining companies consider when implementing new technologies? Are there additional challenges to be aware of?

BDO: Mining companies looking to implement new technologies must be prepared to face many challenges and risks. Most notably, companies must be cautious not to over-rely on technology to solve every problem.
major reason why many IT projects fail is not due to a lack of technological tools, but a lack of subject matter experts who can work alongside IT vendors to design platforms that will get the desired results.

Technology can only take an organization so far. Companies must continually invest in hiring and training smart professionals so that they can optimize the systems in place.

There is also the challenge of systems integration. Any new technology introduced must integrate well with the company’s existing systems.

Finally, companies must ensure they have the proper cybersecurity and information governance frameworks in place to guard against potential cyberattacks and data breaches.

DX Journal: How can companies prepare themselves for emerging technologies, such as Industry 4.0, cloud and IoT?

BDO: Mining companies that want to take advantage of Industry 4.0 and the associated emerging technologies and applications (i.e. sensors, data analytics, the IoT, and AI) need to have a tailored action plan that clearly outlines the organization’s goals, stakeholders, and potential areas for failure.

As mentioned earlier, companies must also be extremely aware of cybersecurity, and the new security challenges that new technological systems, such as the IoT, bring.

As mining companies shift to connected operations, security must be embedded into products from design to distribution. An ideal cybersecurity program is one that focuses on proactive threat intelligence, detection, and rapid response.

DX Journal: What top corruption risks can mining companies expect to face in the next year, and how will technology help them respond?

BDO: Mining companies can expect to continue to face many of the same corruption risks they are facing today in the year ahead.

Political and administrative risks will continue to persist, as mining companies rely on government officials for mining license applications and approvals.

Nevertheless, the advancement and proliferation of technology over the past several years has been a huge boon to companies fighting corruption.

Advanced forensic data analytics can help organizations spot suspicious transactions, arising from anomalous data, as soon as they occur. It is expected that as the technology evolves, companies can use analytics not only to spot current anomalies, but envision potential problematic scenarios and act on predictive trends.

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The importance of data access for digital initiatives

A new report from MuleSoft found that just 37% of organizations have the skills and technology to keep up with digital projects.

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In a global survey of over 1,700 line of business employees in organizations with at least 250 employees, MuleSoft found that just 37% of organizations have the skills and technology to keep up with digital projects.

The resulting report — The State of Business and IT Innovation — reveals four key ideas that IT leaders need to know in order to drive digital innovation forward.

These four key findings are:

  • Collaboration is key 
    • 68% of respondents believe IT and LoB users should jointly drive digital innovation.
  • Keep up the pace 
    • 51% expressed frustration with the speed at which IT can deliver projects.
  • Integration challenge
    • 37% cite security and compliance as the biggest challenge to delivering new digital services, followed by integration (i.e. connecting systems, data, and apps) at 37%.
  • Data access
    • 80% say that in order to deliver on project goals faster, employees need easy access to data and IT capabilities.  

“This research shows data is one of the most critical assets that businesses need to move fast and thrive into the future,” said MuleSoft CEO Brent Hayward

“Organizations need to empower every employee to unlock and integrate data — no matter where it resides — to deliver critical, time-sensitive projects and innovation at scale, while making products and services more connected than ever.”

Want to read through the whole report? Download it from MuleSoft

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Where is the financial value in AI? Employing multiple human-machine learning approaches, say experts

According to a new study, only 10% of organizations are achieving significant financial benefits with AI.

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AI is everywhere these days — especially as we work to fight the spread of COVID-19

Even in the “before times,” AI was a hot topic that always found itself in the center of most digital transformation conversations. A new study from MIT Sloan Management Review, BCG GAMMA, and BCG Henderson Institute, however, prompts a crucial question:

Are You Making the Most of Your Relationship with AI?

Finding value

Despite the proliferation of the technology and increased investment, according to the report, just 10% of organizations are achieving significant financial benefits with AI. The secret ingredient in these success stories? “Multiple types of interaction and feedback between humans and AI,” which translated into a six-times better chance of amplifying the organization’s success with AI.

“The single most critical driver of value from AI is not algorithms, nor technology — it is the human in the equation,” affirms report co-author Shervin Khodabandeh.

 

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From a survey of over 3,000 managers from 29 industries based in 112 countries — plus in-depth interviews with experts — the report outlined three investments organizations can make to maximize value:

  • The likelihood of achieving benefits increases by 19% with investment in AI infrastructure, talent, and strategy.
  • Scalability. When organizations think beyond automation as a use case, the likelihood of financial benefit increases by 18%.
  • “Achieving organizational learning with AI (drawing on multiple interaction modes between humans and machines) and building feedback loops between human and AI increases that likelihood by another 34%.”

According to report co-author Sam Ransbotham, at the core of successfully creating value from AI is continuous learning between human and machine:

“Isolated AI applications can be powerful. But we find that organizations leading with AI haven’t changed processes to use AI. Instead, they’ve learned with AI how to change processes. The key isn’t teaching the machines. Or even learning from the machines. The key is learning with the machines — systematically and continuously.” 

Continued growth

While just 1 in 10 organizations finds financial benefits with AI, 70% of respondents understand how it can generate value — up from 57% in 2017.

Additionally, 59% of respondents have an AI strategy, compared to 39% in 2017, the survey found. Finally, 57% of respondents say their organizations are “piloting or deploying” AI — not a huge increase from 2017 (46%). 

One of the biggest takeaways? According to co-author David Kiron, “companies need to calibrate their investments in technology, people, and learning processes.”

“Financial investments in technology and people are important, but investing social capital in learning is critical to creating significant value with AI.”

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Bringing DX to the food supply chain in a pandemic

In a new paper, supply chain stakeholders share how COVID-19 has affected the transformation of the sector.

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There’s little doubt that COVID-19 had a profound effect on the food supply chain.

As one example, just think back to roughly March of this year, when virus transmission was rapidly picking up speed. Remember the reports of food and beverage companies only producing their most popular or essential products? Or how it would take slightly longer than usual to restock certain products? What about the rush to integrate — or quickly improve the efficiency of — digital and e-commerce. 

Panning out a bit, think about food safety and quality professionals. The need to stay safe — and in many cases, stay at home — meant performing the very hands-on job of monitoring, auditing, inspecting at a distance, i.e. digitally. 

When the food supply chain was hit by storages, delays, breakdowns, and lockdowns, the end result was — like in so many sectors — a rapid digital transformation.

As The Food Safety Market — an SME-powered industrial data platform dedicated to boosting the competitiveness of European food certification — elaborates in a new discussion paper, “technology has played an important role in enabling business continuity in the new reality.”

The paper — Digital Transformation of Food Quality & Safety: How COVID-19 accelerates the adoption of digital technologies across the food supply chain — features industry experts from companies like Nestlé, Ferrero, PepsiCo, McCormick & Company, and more discussing the effects of the pandemic on the supply chain.

A few highlights from the paper:

  • John Carter, Area Europe Quality Director for Ferrero put the issue of food access into perspective at the start of his interview:

“The production of food defines our world. The effects of agriculture on our daily lives are so omnipresent that they can be easy to overlook; landscapes and societies are profoundly influenced by the need to feed our growing population. But much has been taken for granted. Only occasionally are we forced to consider: ‘where does our food come from?'”

  • Ellen de Brabander, Senior Vice President of R&D for PepsiCo provided insight on the cost benefits of digital transformation:

“The need for customization is a big driver for accelerating digital transformation and moving away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach. This means that the cost to develop and produce a product must be lower and digital technologies provide a clear opportunity here.” 

  • Clare Menezes, Director of Global Food Integrity for McCormick & Company brought up one area where digital tools need to go:

“There aren’t any areas where digital tools “fail”, but there is a need for tools that ‘prove out’ predictions around where the next integrity event will play out and how it could lead to quality or food safety failure. These tools are an obvious candidate for AI given the number of PESTLE factors that might come into play.” 

Want to read all of the interviews? Check out the paper here.

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