IT can help address governance issues

  • Business
  • Wednesday, 01 Sep 2004

By Yvonne Chong

Corporate governance has been a hot topic for the past two years, resulting in a substantial increase in the awareness level. But adoption and execution of it still lag behind. 

Perhaps it has to do with the seemingly apparent conflict between corporate governance and business performance. 

Corporate governance is all about conformance to rules and regulations to ensure accountability. However, too many controls would tend to stifle business performance, which centred on efficiency and the bottom line, Oracle Corp Malaysia Sdn Bhd eBusiness solutions director Loh Lee Soon said. 

“As such, there seems to be an apparent conflict between corporate governance and business governance. But by introducing technology into the principle of governance, there is no need for one to suffer at the expense of the other,” Loh said. 

Loh Lee Soon

He noted that many organisations did not realise that information underpinned good governance. 

“Using technology, an organisation can better access information to provide better visibility, control and efficiency, without compromising profitability,” he added. 

Technology enables all information to be centralised on a common data model, giving enterprise-wide visibility. This provides the management with timely, accurate and relevant information, thus equipping them to better respond to organisational and market changes. 

Embedded with global standardised processes, technology enables control and efficiency at the same time. It enhances internal controls through automation and proactively watches over all transactions and alerts the relevant people of breaches of control. And it provides an auditable trail of business decisions. 

An internal portal, with self-service capabilities and built-in controls and security, encourages a controls-conscious culture; while e-learning enhances knowledge, efficiency and corporate governance among staff. 

“In Oracle itself, we have made it mandatory for each employee to be trained and tested online. We have no way of escaping it – the system keeps reminding us,” Loh said. 

In the late 1990s, Oracle foresaw two things that would happen: that the Internet would be widespread, and information would be the most important thing and thus would need to be centralised. With that belief, Oracle redeveloped its application software and released the Oracle E-Business Suites 11i, a single data model that works over the Internet, Loh said. 

According to Loh, most tier one software vendors would have incorporated elements of corporate governance into their applications, but Oracle is the only vendor with a single data model. 

When asked about the local IT scene and adoption of corporate governance, Loh said over the last 12 months, the demand for business applications, such as financial management software and business intelligence software, had gained momentum.  

He said enterprises realised that for information to be centralised, they had to have their processes cutting across the organisation instead of the traditional “silo” approach. 

“In particular, the demand for HR-related software had been booming over the past four months, as large organisations relook into their internal processes,” he added. 

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