This is a transcription of our interview with Calvin Lee. You can watch the original video interview here or listen to the podcast episode here.


Boris: Welcome to our interview with Calvin Lee. Calvin is a co-founder and managing director at RiskID, which is a company that markets a collaborative risk management software that focuses on collaboration and ease of use. Calvin, thank you for coming to our interview today.

Calvin: Thank you very much,

Boris: Calvin, could you tell us a short story of about RiskId and what you guys are up to these days?

Calvin: Yes, of course. Well, you already introduced me a bit, my name is Calvin Lee and I am the co-founder of RiskID and I co founded that with two other university students back in 2009 already. At that time, which is already11 years ago, all three of us freshly graduated from the Delft University of technology in the Netherlands, and we studied information technology together.

In the study, there was a course called collaboration engineering. It basically teaches you techniques to improve group work. One of the techniques is a software called Group Support, GS in short. We related those collaboration techniques that we learned in school to create our own risk management software, which you briefly mentioned in your introduction. And remember that back in 2009, we where in the middle of the financial crisis and risk management was suddenly very hot at that moment.

Basically every time that there was a big disaster have happening, risk management study pops up again. Right now also with a pandemic, risk management becomes a topic again. And so suddenly at the time everybody was doing risk assessment sessions left and right, but they also saw the shortcomings of those post-it sessions.

You remember those, for example, dominant people, overshadowing the silent ones, unreadable handwriting, some look like prescriptions, you get from the doctor.

It was just long and boring sessions. So for that reason we developed RiskID to specifically improve the support of online risk assessment sessions, making them easier to do for everybody, and also much more effective and ultimately maybe a bit more fun as well.

So to answer your second question, what am I up to these days a week, mostly providing online demos to prospects. Oftentimes they come to us and want a better way to facilitate online risk assessment sessions, because with COVID you can't even do those post-it sessions anymore even if you want to.

So next to that, I'm working on our foreign expansions, talking to potential partners in other countries to help us market RiskID overseas.

Boris: Interesting. So how the Risk ID software differs from other software providers in the space because there are many companies that doing the same and what are some examples of your customers' use cases?

Calvin: Yes, you're right. There’s a lot of software vendors right now. You rightfully mentioned in your intro two key points that we are focusing on. This is collaborative risk management and ease of use. Allow me to elaborate those two aspects in more detail. So first on the collaboration part. We truly believe that effective risk management can only be achieved by involving all stakeholders, your team members, your colleagues, and raising their Risk awareness, but it need to be in a very simple and practical way.

So don't get me wrong. I also think that risk calculations with percentages and exact amount of Euros is very important with Monte Carlo simulations, et cetera. That part is in Risk ID as well, but ultimately garbage in garbage out.

So the very first step is to get your team or colleagues to become aware of the risk and share it with other team members. You need to know and understand what is bothering your colleagues because we are on the same boat. We need to share our experiences and knowledge.

Once that is clear, then we can analyze the Risk with those models and see what we want to do with them. So the risk identification, and analysis part is very important first step to do it properly and collaboratively, very important to do it together. And we have designed our software to optimally support, just that.

And then the ease of use parts. That's the second USP of ours, because it is directly linked to our first objective to involve our stackholders in the process.

You can't achieve that if you present them an overly complicated software, right? So now with our iPhones, everybody demands easy to use software. The current Risk management software vendors on the market make the user feel like they are operating the cockpits of the Boeing 737 Max, so it doesn't attract them to use it. Maybe it's acceptable for Risk officers to use those kinds of complicated software because that is their job, but the normal users joining your Risk session don't really like that.

Now, of course, all vendors will tell you that their software is user-friendly like us. We also say that, but what we do differently is this. While other vendors sat that their software is user friendly, our software is scientifically proven to be user friendly.

While other software vendors say that their software is effective and efficient, our software is scientifically proven to be identifying and evaluating Risk in 60% less time than conventional methods.

Other academics have written papers and book chapters about it and published it on in scientific software journals and research presentation has been done on this topic as well.

So that's the difference. We really make risk management a collaborative and easier. And to briefly answer your second question, all our clients are using the software right now to do online risk assessment sessions.

They are at home. They range from strategic risk sessions to project risk sessions, and they also use our dashboards to monitor Risk measures. Because once you have run the risk assessments step's in, RiskID, you have created a massive Risk ownership at the business. So the team members who manage their own risk for themselves, without you having to chase them. We have some reference cases from clients on our website. If the viewers are interested in detailed use cases they can find them there.

Boris: How has COVID impacted you and your clients and perhaps what are your insights on how the pandemic have impacted the way organizations approach risk and compliance?

Calvin: We can't circumvent COVID. I have to say that the imposed COVID measures all of the world, which is to work from home as much as possible have given RiskID much more exposure to new clients. Because even before COVID we advocated that is a much more effective and efficient do risk identification and scoring online. So we are getting popular. I think the pandemic has accelerated digitalization in organizations and therefore also in the risk and compliance departments. You could even say that it has exposed Risk department's that they are behind in that digitalization.

Look, I understand that there are risks consultants preaching all about building a Risk culture and that you don't need software to do that, et cetera. And I agree, Risk culture here is the key success factor to risk management and also agree that it is better or not to use any software then to use bad software. However, we are currently in a digital age, technology is everywhere, and there are definitely good tools out there to support Risk managers in the works, which is to help the organization grow in Risk maturity, but step by step.

So some organizations are still in the early stages of risk management and there are tools and technology to help them. And by the way, if you think about post-its, even a pen and paper are technology in that definition, I bet the Risk consultants at the least are using a pen and paper to write their Risk culture vitals. So you are using technology either way. For every organization out there, the pandemic has forced them to think of technological ways to help them with their risk management and with COVID it's difficult, but that doesn't have to be because there are good tools that can help them.

Boris: So from your observation, what are the biggest risk and compliance challenges for your customers right now? How have these challenges changed since the outbreak of the pandemic?

Calvin: Well, if you think about it, risk and compliance, aren't sexy topics. Some might even think they are hindrances. If you're talking to the board members, they all want to know and talk about maximizing profits and shareholder value. So risks aren't really in on the agenda. For many of our clients, the main challenge is how to get people's attention for risk management, how to show and prove that risk management can help their organization achieve the objectives.

And ultimately how to make risk management sticky. That's always been the challenge, now the same with the COVID. I believe to achieve this stickiness you have to simplify the risk analysis and risk management processes, make them more attractive in order to involve all stakeholders in the process, get them to see the added value by doing it properly and gradually moving towards a higher maturity level.

So I don't think that COVID has changed the challenges itself. It has always been the same for risk and compliance officers. It only made it harder to solve without technology. I mean, everyone is working from home at the moment. How are you going to make Risk sessions interesting, screen sharing your Excel? I don't think so.

Boris: Let me ask your personal opinion. What is a commonly held belief as it relates to Risk Management that you strongly disagree with?

Calvin: That's a good question. I think what I mentioned earlier, I disagree to the belief that technology or software doesn't help in improving risk management or risk culture in the organization. I think we need technology to do a better risk management and that the pandemic we are in now only solidifies this statements and urges us to transition to a much more but suitable, technological support for Risk Management.

Ultimately, I think that there are better technology available to us now than Excel or PostIt. Excel might be the best toool 12 years ago, but it has changed since then.

Boris: So what do you think about the trends in the future in the next few years, with regards to risk management and compliance. What should we expect from you guys in the future?

Calvin: It's a busy time for us at RiskID and traditionally we stayed in the Risk domain. So our software is specifically designed to support the risk management processes. However, while getting more and more clients they want us to support those Risk related domains as well, like compliance or incident management. Before we stayed away from those domains with focus on Risk Management.

We connect with other systems to support those auditing and compliance modules. But since the clients are demanding it or requesting it, we are now actually building our own compliance module which is going to be released in a few months. And then we're going to build other modules as well, like incidents and audits. So we are expanding our horizons, so to speak and that's going to be a challenging time for us to go to more GRC related systems.

Boris: It sounds like exciting time. So let's finalize, if someone who is listening to this interview, we would like to walk away from it with the one or two major takeaways. What would that be?

Calvin: That's a hard one. Let me think about that. Well, we always say as a professional you have to reject over complicated software because nowadays programmers can’t make their users suffer anymore like they used to. We have to think as a vendor how to make everything more effective and user friendly. I think that it is a very important principal in today's environment not to pay too much for things you don't really use.

I think that as a software vendor, I want to tell to our viewers to think about what you need and search for something that really suits your work.

Boris: One more question as a founder of Global Risk Community, what would you expect from our online community to improve our reach, our services, to all the people who are working in this area?

Calvin: I think now is the time that there are so many people online which is the opportunity for a Global platform like Global Risk Community. I think if you give more online tips for them how to do risk management in the online environment, because we're going to stay maybe even after COVID we have to work online more and more.

So what are the techniques for Risk and compliance officers to make Risk Management work online. I think there's a lot of things that can be found on your website and perhaps produce more tips and tricks, blogs, or articles that people can share the experiences with success stories. So others can learn from it because now we are not bound with a traveling distances. So everybody can just click on your website and search for knowledge.

And I think that sharing knowledge is very important for a platform like yours.

Boris: Thank you, Calvin for your time today, and I wish you and your company rapid growth and to implement your plans. I hope that we will continue to following you guys in the future.

Calvin: Thank you Boris for this interview. And I wish you a lot of success as well with your platform and get more members.


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