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All too often it is assumed that GDPR compliance is IT’s problem because having your personal data and technology are such vital parts of it. But compliance must be an organization-wide commitment. No individual or single department can make an organization compliant. However, in planning discussions around GDPR compliance, there are clear areas where IT can add significant value.
The potential value of data to organizations is increasing all the time, but many departments, business units, and even board members may not realise how much data they have access to, where it resides, how it is created, how it could be used, and how it is protected. The IT department can play a clear role in helping organizations understand why data, and by extension GDPR, is so important and determine the best way to use and protect it.
GDPR considers protection of personal data a fundamental human right. Organizations need to ensure they understand what personal data they have access to and put in place appropriate protective measures. IT has a role to play in working with the organization to assess security risks and ensure that appropriate protective measures, such as encryption, access controls, attack prevention, and detection, are in place.
GDPR requires organizations to not only protect personal data but also respond to requests from individuals who, among other things, want to amend or delete data held on them. That means that their personal data must be collected, collated, and structured in a way that enables effective and reliable control of all this information. This means breaking down internal silos and ensuring an organization has a clear view of its processing activities with regard to personal data.
GDPR compliance is as much about process, culture, and planning as it is about technology. However, there are products available that can help organizations with key elements of GDPR compliance, such as data management, security, and the automated enforcement of security measures. Advances in automation and artificial intelligence mean many tools offer a level of proactivity and scalability that don’t lessen the responsibility upon people within the organization but can reduce the workload and put in place an approach which can evolve with changing compliance requirements.
An improved approach to security and compliance management, fit for the digital economy, can give organizations the confidence to unlock the full potential of their data. If data is more secure, better ordered, and easier to make sense of, it stands to reason an organization can do more with it. It may be tempting to see GDPR as an unwelcome chore. However, companies should also bear in mind that this is also an opportunity to seek differentiation and greater value, to build new data-driven business models, confident in the knowledge that they are using data in a compliant way. Giving consumers the confidence to share their data is also good for businesses.
The IT department will know better than most how the full value of data can be unlocked and can help businesses pull away from seeing GDPR as a cost of doing business and start seeing it as an opportunity to do business better.