5 Critical Risks Facing the Technology Industry

The technology industry is one of the fastest-growing industries today. And with high-speed innovation comes numerous emerging risks.
By: | July 10, 2018 • 3 min read
Topics: Technology

Risks are always emerging for the technology industry.

Advertisement




As one of the fastest-growing industries, the tech sector is constantly developing brand-new solutions and opening its doors to the dangers that come with untested innovation.

Artificial intelligence, cyber threats, a workforce shortage and more. Which challenges should the tech industry be keeping an eye on?

1) Cyber Security

Awareness of cyber risk increases every day as more and more businesses are threatened with some form of cyber attack. Yet companies still neglect to prepare for such threats. The technology industry is working hard to combat these attacks, but it can still be vulnerable to hackers.

Cyber crime damages are estimated to reach a total of $6 trillion annually by 2021. And with old, inconsistent hardware being more prone to an attack than newer equipment, delaying upgrades may seem like a great way to save some money short term. However, that kind of thinking can lead to long-term costs for IT support and downtime after an attack.

When an attack is set in motion, tech experts have to be on top of the breach now. Technology industry companies have to be in contact with the right partners and vendors that will find the source of the attack and resolve it in time to protect the business.

2) Robots and Artificial Intelligence

If a robot malfunctions, who is at fault? The user or the manufacturer? Or maybe it’s the person who created the technology in the first place?

Tech companies are beginning to see this dilemma crop up more frequently. Just this year, a driverless car struck a pedestrian on the road and killed her. The technology within the car was examined, and investigators determined that the car did see the woman before impact. So why didn’t it stop? What was wrong with the tech inside?

Robots and other artificial intelligent devices (like the driverless car) are gaining in numbers in every industry, from manufacturing to hospitality. The technology needed for these creations to perform has to be fail proof or else the tech industry will continue to face liability lawsuits for both personal injury and property damage.

3) Steep Pressure to Innovate

Thirty years ago, it was hard to imagine every home in the U.S. housing a computer, which, at the time, could take up a whole wall. Now, every single person has access to a computer in the palm of their hands. And with the instant, easy-access tool that is the cell phone, anyone can create the next “big thing” in technology.

That’s why so many in the technology industry are feeling pressure to invent. To stay on top and to stay relevant, tech geniuses have to create devices, applications and inventions that will outlast and outshine the competition. This need to create can lead to mishaps and overlooked details while techies are working — which in turn can become a huge can of virtual worms if the wrong thing is overlooked and people get hurt.

4) Workforce Shortage 

The Center for Cyber Safety and Education (the Center) published a study that shows there is a serious talent shortage looming for the information security workforce.

This gap in talent can exacerbate other emerging risks for the sector.

How? With less workers comes more strain on those who are available. More cyber threats can slip through the cracks when a tech employee is stretched thin. And mistakes will be made if there aren’t well-trained employees monitoring devices, robots, AI and other tech products. Weak tech support can also hinder a technology consultancy’s reputation.

The Center’s survey and analysis, which includes feedback from over 19,000 information security professionals worldwide, suggests employers look to millennials to fill the projected 1.8 million information security workforce gap estimated to exist by 2022.

5) Lacking in Diversity

And with a workforce shortage already looming, the technology industry needs to be aware that its existing workforce might be keeping them from success.

Advertisement




The tech workforce is predominantly male. Five percent of the entire technology industry workforce is Latino or black, and women make up around 11 percent of globally employed cyber security professionals. In the U.S., only 14 percent of the tech-based workforce is female.

Millennials are a leading force behind the push for tech diversity. And countless studies have shown the benefits of have a diverse workforce, from increases in productivity and creativity, to growing networks (and clients) in different languages and cultures. &

Autumn Heisler is the digital producer and a staff writer at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.

Advertisement




That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.

Advertisement




Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]