Compliance organizations increasingly turn to social networking tools

As regulations increase, more compliance organizations and professionals are seeing the value of social networking tools to share information on regulatory compliance services.

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Compliance is complex, so many managers solicit advice on the topic from peers. Traditionally, this process took place one on one at industry conferences, seminars or trade shows. But a new avenue has risen: Compliance organizations are increasingly using social networking tools to provide professionals with instant help to do their jobs better.

LinkedIn Corp. is one of the better-known business-related social networking tools. Started in 2002 in the living room of co-founder Reid Hoffman, the network now has more than 100 million members in 200 countries. Roughly 1 million new members join LinkedIn every week.

Participants are able to form their own subgroups around topics of common interest, and use them to exchange pertinent information. A handful of such groups have sprouted up in the regulatory compliance services arena.

Some of these compliance organizations exist only as subgroups of LinkedIn. For instance, the Information Technology Audit and Governance group was created in January 2008 and has 23,900 members. This group focuses on issues such as information technology audits, compliance, quality assurance, business continuity, disaster recovery, IT governance, fraud, risk and forensics. The virtual organization offers information, discussion groups and resources to IT, internal and application auditors, as well as compliance, information security and forensics professionals.

The Governance, Risk and Compliance Management group, another LinkedIn organization, was formed in April 2008. Faisal Ansari, vice president of professional services at Corpnet Consulting, founded the consortium, which has 14,700 members.

The Risk, Regulation and Reporting group concentrates on compliance issues in the financial service industry. The group was founded in December 2008 and has grown to 38,800 members.

In other cases, existing compliance organizations extend their reach using social networking tools. Founded in 2005, the Regulatory Compliance Association (RCA) has focused on providing educational regulatory compliance services to managers in the financial services industry. Its Chief Compliance Officer University has developed 35 courses devoted to various compliance issues. In January 2009, RCA added a LinkedIn group, and now 9,000 members take advantage of that forum.  For any compliance professional in need of work, the organization runs a job board on LinkedIn. Such hiring resources have become more common on business-related social networking sites.

Founded in 2002, the Open Compliance & Ethics Group provides three member services: guidelines and standards, a community of practice and evaluation criteria and benchmarks. Its LinkedIn presence was created in June 2008 and has 2,700 members.

Compliance professionals seem to be attracted to the immediacy that social networking sites offer.

Roy Snell, CEO, Health Care Compliance Association

Compliance organizations are also using other forms of social networking tools to market their regulatory compliance services. In 2003, Sanjay Anand founded the Sarbanes-Oxley Group with the goal of disseminating information and training to professionals involved in SOX compliance. In 2005, the group was christened the SOX Institute, and three years later, it was renamed GRC Group. Much of the organization’s communications take place on online forums. Staff field questions from the compliance community and use resources (analyst partners, data repositories and other members) to answer the various queries. Recently, the group developed a Facebook page to raise the profile of their regulatory compliance services.

The IT GRC Forum is an online resource and networking platform for the governance, risk management and compliance community. The group produces educational events such as webcasts, and provides market intelligence such as white papers and research. The organization links to market research analysts and executives from GRC software and services companies. The group recently began stringing Twitter feeds on its front page and encourages members to join the conversation.

The Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA) has spawned a second professional group called the Society of Corporate Compliance & Ethics. For the past two years, the associations have had a Facebook presence. Approximately 10,000 individuals have accessed the site and it has received more than 14,000 posts. “Compliance professionals seem to be attracted to the immediacy that social networking sites offer,” said Roy Snell, founder and chief executive officer of the HCCA. Consequently, these sites are expected to become a more integral part of information exchanges among compliance professionals.

Paul Korzeniowski is a freelance writer who has been covering technology issues for two decades. He is based in Sudbury, Mass., and can be reached at paulkorzen@aol.com.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Ben Cole, Associate Editor.

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