The General Data Protection Regulation that enters into force on the 25 th of May will have a significant impact on the way business is conducted. Despite being considered an impediment by most, it offers substantial benefits to those who can take advantage, according to Alain Leclère, Manager at Alpha FMC.
“The regulation comes with severe penalties in the case of non-compliance. These are undeniably daunting and force organisations to strive for compliance. Although companies concerned generally tend to focus on impediments and negative risks, I’d like to put the emphasis on the numerous opportunities that come with the new regulation. These go far beyond mere compliance”, comments Alain Leclère.
The undisputed importance of data protection
In the eyes of the expert, the new European regulation will have a considerable impact on the way business is generally conducted. The regulation, which comes with new requirements, such as data minimisation or increased transparency needs, will impact organisations as a whole. “The importance of data protection is undisputed. A few weeks ago, Facebook’s market value declined by $60 billion following the Cambridge
Analytica scandal. To put this into perspective: this decline is higher than 2/3 of the world’s countries’ GDP”, he explains.
A catalyst for change
Companies that are in scope of the regulation shall strive to get the big picture, a picture that goes far beyond mere compliance, one that offers numerous transformational benefits. “GDPR has to be seen as a catalyst for change. Current trends such as process automation, Big Data, and the Internet of Things all heavily draw upon the very existence of pertinent data. It is a C-suite challenge as it affects every single business’ strategy. Yet, many opportunities come with a better understanding of data treatment and its improvement. Change agents within companies will perceive GDPR as a blessing, a lever to convince board members on the direction to take”, he asserts.
Opportunities originating from GDPR
Alain Leclère sees 3 core areas that could benefit from GDPR: data quality, cost of data ownership, and stakeholder management.
- An increase in data quality and other positive side-effects: “We will witness augmented information quality by knowing where the data stems from and whether or not it is trustworthy. This will, among others, allow companies to forearm to the requirements of the Internet of Things, Robotic Process Automation, and Artificial Intelligence. Moreover, we can expect reduced operational risks.”
- A decrease of data ownership costs: “The quantity of irrelevant data will diminish and processes linked to their treatment will be less burdensome to optimise and/or automate. We will also witness a severe increase in data analytics’ validity, thus supporting ROI, as data will be less fragmented while being more pertinent at the same time. Additionally, we could expect a decrease in data migration costs following standardisation ambitions due to the regulation’s portability requirements. Finally, as GDPR requires you to have a holistic view on data (and processes/people), it will lead to associate business streamlining opportunities.”
- A refinement in the quality of relations with stakeholders: “On the one hand, I expect improved relationships with customers. It’s a unique opportunity to show how much you value a relationship among equals, one that is built upon mutual trust. Services generally need to be much more customer friendly, especially given millennials’ expectations on immediate information availability and high expectations regarding transparency. On the other hand, we can also assume an enhanced relationship with suppliers, as GDPR forces companies to abandon their black box attitude.”
A matter of preparedness and corporate culture
Only those appropriately prepared and those able to see GDPR as more than an additional compliance burden will be able to realise aforesaid benefits. “I see three prerequisites to materialise these benefits. First, one needs a corporate culture open to change. Companies must invariably take a positive can-do approach to avoid any devastating self-fulfilling prophecy scenarios. Second, they need a stronger commitment to digitalising their operating model. Silo thinking ultimately has to stop in the digital era. Finally, a comprehensive data strategy must be adapted, one that defines: what data is collected, when, through which means, and to what purpose, to actually create additional value.”