baking privacy into your organization

Privacy by Design: The New Competitive Advantage

4 minute read
Robert Cruz avatar

The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect in May 2018, has far-reaching implications that extend far beyond the EU.

Businesses that fail to meet the new mandates aimed at protecting personal data face severe consequences. They can be fined up to $20 million, or 4 percent of global revenues — a cost that makes this regulation impossible to ignore.

Antiquated Systems Fall Short of Modern Regulations

To date, most organizations protect personal data to the best of their ability. However, they don’t have the proper technology in place to understand where the data resides and the potential risks it is exposed to. 

Complicating things further, the antiquated systems most businesses have in place don’t offer the level of protection required to comply with the GDPR. 

With the risk of hefty fines, businesses are now forced to reconsider their technology investments. 

Companies’ ability to successfully navigate the GDPR hinges on their willingness to embrace privacy by design for themselves and the companies they work with.

GDPR’s Global Ramifications

While many understand the severe implications of the GDPR, they underestimate how broadly it reaches.

The regulations put forth by the GDPR concern not only EU citizens and companies based in the EU, but any organization that processes data from an EU Citizen. In today’s globalized digital world, chances are high that the majority of companies, from a specialty jewelry shop in Oklahoma to an an ecommerce powerhouse in Asia, will eventually interact with an EU citizen. 

As such the GDPR is something they must address.

The stakes are even higher when you consider all of the service providers companies rely on to collect and manage customer data — from customer relationship management (CRM) to point of sales (POS) systems. As businesses across the globe respond to the GDPR, service providers and vendors must up their privacy ante as well.

Learning Opportunities

EU citizens have a more rigorous standard of what constitutes personal privacy and vendors must able to address that. Not only to meet current EU mandates, but also to embrace a privacy stance that will likely pave the way for many others to follow.

Compliance Is More Than Just Checking a Box

Successfully meeting GDPR guidelines requires more than just slapping on a few quick fixes. Adopting a piecemeal approach which fails to consider all service providers that touch personal data will create more problems than it solves. 

Privacy must become a core element of affected organizations and the services they provide must be designed around it. 

With a firm understanding of what GDPR guidelines means for their employees, departments and IT team, businesses can reconsider their technology investments in that light. As they do so, it will stratify service providers that embrace privacy by design from those that approach privacy as an afterthought.

For example, the IT department at a global bank will need services in place so that they can preserve data, the flexibility to change where they store the data and the ability to delete any data that may be considered personal. 

A major component of the GDPR is the “right to be forgotten.” And while many relate it to casual personal data shared online, it can also pertain to business correspondence. As such, businesses must be prepared to find specific date and selectively dispose of it — a task that forces businesses to consider providers that put a premium on data privacy.   

The GDPR is seen as a barometer for the broader global privacy agenda and will likely have a cascading effect across industries and regions. In the post-GDPR world, privacy, security and compliance with GDPR will be the brand differentiators for service providers.

About the author

Robert Cruz

Robert Cruz is senior director of information governance for Actiance, a leader in communications compliance, archiving and analytics. Robert leverages more than 20 years of Silicon Valley experience in providing thought leadership on emerging topics including cloud computing, information governance and discovery cost and risk reduction.

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