Balancing Digital Innovation and Risk Management for Effective Decision Making in the Boardroom.

Balancing Digital Innovation and Risk Management for Effective Decision Making in the Boardroom.

As businesses and organisations strive to keep up with the rapidly evolving digital landscape, the pressure to incorporate digital innovation as a means of maintaining growth and a competitive advantage has never been greater. However, with digital innovation comes risk, and it is crucial for boards to balance potential benefits with effective risk management to avoid significant financial losses, reputational harm, and legal liabilities. To strike this balance, boards must proactively evaluate the potential risks and rewards of new technologies, make informed decisions that benefit their organisations in the long term, and be willing to explore creative solutions that minimise risk while still embracing innovation.

To manage the risk that comes with digital innovation, we must first understand what it means and the benefits it carries.

Digital Innovations And its Benefits 

Digital innovation could be regarded as the development of new technologies, applications, and procedures that take advantage of digital technologies such as the Internet, mobile devices, and data analytics. This can encompass novel products, services, or business models that improve the way things are done. With the continuous advancement of digital technologies, organisations can now optimise their operations, processes, and overall performance. Digital innovations provide various benefits thats can be leveraged to improve an organisation’s bottom line, enhance customer satisfaction, and  drive effective decision-making in the boardroom.

One of the key benefits of digital innovation is increased efficiency. It enables the automation and digitisation of processes, which in turn streamlines workflow, reduces costs, and accelerates task completion. Another benefit is an improved client experience. Digital innovations facilitate more personalised interactions between organisations and their clients, providing more streamlined and valuable customer relationships. Additionally, digital innovation can also provide a competitive advantage by enabling businesses to offer new or improved products and services, or by having rapid and efficient responses to changing market conditions.


Risk management and its importance 

Risk management involves assessing and controlling the risks that a business may face. This process requires evaluating potential risk factors and developing strategies to mitigate them and their effects on the organisation and its stakeholders. Implementing and adopting a sound risk management system is important for the sustainability of an organisation. If proper measures are not taken, an organisation opens itself up to issues such as financial losses from product or service recalls, legal liabilities arising from lawsuits, and fines for regulatory bodies for non-compliance. Furthermore, a damaged reputation can lead to decreased trust among customers and investors, as well as lower employee morale, ultimately resulting in reduced revenue and staff turnover.

The emergence of digital technologies has increased the complexity of risk management. Companies must now navigate new risk factors, such as cybersecurity threats, data privacy breaches, and technology failures. Boards must play a crucial role in overseeing the adjustment in risk management processes, including the integration of digital innovation, to ensure that the company is positioned to reap the benefits of technology while minimising risks. Boards must therefore ensure that they have the necessary expertise to assess and manage these risks. 

Digital Innovation and Risk Management: The Need for Balance 

Balancing digital innovation with risk management is vital for an organisation to succeed in the modern business landscape. For example, an overly cautious approach to risk management can stifle innovation by discouraging experimentation and reducing the organisation’s ability to take calculated risks. Organisations with such an approach may likely miss out on opportunities to gain a competitive edge, attract customers, and increase profitability. 

On the other hand, an overly aggressive approach to risk management can increase risk beyond acceptable levels. Companies that adopt this approach may be more likely to experience financial losses, reputational harm, and legal issues. Furthermore, an overly aggressive approach can lead to decreased customer trust and investor confidence, negatively impacting the company’s bottom line. Therefore, boards must strive to strike a balance between digital innovation and risk management. This requires careful evaluation of potential risks and rewards associated with new technologies, as well as developing a risk management strategy that incorporates digital innovation. By taking this approach, companies can reap the benefits of technology while minimising risks and positioning themselves for long-term success. Now, here is where you may want to ask the question; How can I formulate strategies to balance digital innovation with risk management?

Strategies for Balancing Digital Innovation and Risk Management in the Boardroom

Balancing digital innovation with risk management is a complex task, but there are several effective strategies that boards can use to strike the right balance. 


  • Set clear organisational risk tolerance: Boards should define the level of risk they are willing to accept, based on their organisation’s risk appetite and business objectives. This helps to establish a framework for evaluating the risks and benefits of new technologies and innovations and makes it easier to make informed decisions.
  • Adopt an agile approach to development: Agile methodologies enable businesses to be more flexible and responsive to changing market conditions and customer needs. By breaking down development processes into smaller, iterative cycles, organisations can test and refine their innovations rapidly, while still managing risk efficiently.
  • Establish a risk management committee: This fulfills a crucial oversight role within the Board by offering independent and expert guidance on matters concerning risk. Its primary function is to aid the Board in overseeing and managing risks across the organisation. With a risk management committee, an organisation can better balance its digital risk management efforts between digital expertise and the requirements of the organisation
  • Implement effective cybersecurity measures: Cybersecurity is a major source of risk in today’s digital landscape, and boards need to take active steps to mitigate it. This includes ensuring the implementation of robust security measures, such as firewalls, encryption, and multi-factor authentication, as well as conducting regular vulnerability assessments and employee cyber awareness training. It is always best to hire a Cybersecurity consultant or full time CISO to help with this.
  • Collaborate with industry partners: Collaboration with industry partners can help businesses identify and mitigate risks associated with digital innovation, while still promoting growth and development. By sharing knowledge and expertise, organisations can benefit from a broader perspective on risk management and innovation, and develop more effective strategies.

  • Foster a culture of innovation and risk management: Boards should actively support an organisational culture that encourages innovation and prioritises risk management. This includes promoting open communication and collaboration between different departments, encouraging employees to take calculated risks, and rewarding success while learning from failures.
  • Use data-driven decision-making: Boards should use data to inform their decisions on innovation and risk management. By analysing relevant data, such as customer feedback, market trends, and risk assessments, boards can make informed decisions that balance the potential benefits of innovation with the need to manage risk effectively.

By adopting these strategies, boards can strike an effective balance between digital innovation and risk management, ensuring that their organisation remains competitive and sustainable in today’s digital landscape.

Chioma Mordi



About The Society for Corporate Governance Nigeria

SCGN is a registered not-for-profit organisation committed to the development of corporate governance best practices in Nigeria. Today, the Society is the foremost institution committed to the development and promotion of corporate governance best practices in Nigeria.

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