Loren Nickel, Google.

AuthorLerner, Matthew

Google and parent company Alphabet, Inc. are almost synonymous with emerging technologies-from the company's main search engine business and home automation to more exotic forays into global mapping, self-driving cars and advanced sof tware applications. The business of emerging technology brings with it new risks, uncharted territory and unique challenges that must be met for the company to move forward-and is more than enough to keep any risk manager busy.

The world's second-largest company by market capitalization at roughly $595 billion, Google has over 70,000 employees worldwide and saw revenue of $89.46 billion in 2016. Responsibilityfor managing the risks facing this sprawling organization falls to Nickel and his modest, but growing, staff of nine. "As the company scales, we will need to scale with it," he said.

Focusing on Emerging Risks One of Nickel's first priorities when he joined the company in 2015 was to restructure the risk team to focus more on emerging threats while still maintaining efficient resources for core risks. This involves having a portion of his risk management staff focused purely on emerging risks across the various product teams.

"Going through the process of looking at a lot of unique and emerging risks is something that is really important for us," Nickel said. "So, we have a dedicated team that all they do is focus on each of these risks and work with those individual teams on what their product is doing, and that helps us get a really good sense of how the product is emerging."

Embedding these risk prof essionals with product teams-almost like embedding journalists with forward military units-allows the risk management team to stay abreast of emerging risks throughout the product cycle. "In a company like ours that does a tremendous amount of R&D, it's critical to have early-on relationships and an understanding of what's going on," Nickel said.

"For us, we have almost a lifecycle of emerging risks," he said, which begins with the R&D effort. "Then usually you go to a pilot process and then onto some sort of launch phase, which may be multiple phases as you launch a product. Each product kind of follows that lifecycle, and we keep tracking the risk of each new product."

Risk management prof essionals' involvement is lighter during R&D but escalates quickly in the pilot phase and more so upon launch. "Once you start going into the pilot phase, the risk starts to ramp up, and certainly when the launch happens, usually you are talking about more public interaction, so we get very involved," Nickel said. "We try to provide advice on ways to make the product safer and easier to launch."

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After putting his team in place, Nickel set out to address several large risks, especially cyber. Previous efforts to secure cyber coverage had been frustrating, and more precise measures of these important risks'...

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