The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) completely changed how organizations, across every sector and industry, practiced and viewed compliance. The regulation was implemented to tighten up compliance globally, specifically to harmonize data privacy laws across regions, protect and empower data privacy processes, and re-shape how organizations approach data privacy.
Now, one year later, organizations have no choice but to approach compliance with a careful, strategic eye – regardless of what stage they are at in their own compliance journeys. Moving forward, the regulatory landscape will only get more complex. Furthermore, the high importance placed on consumer privacy will only continue to fuel changes in the modern enterprise – shaping new technologies, processes and strategic leadership to guide initiatives. As new regulations enter the scene, and the onus of protecting consumer data is intensified, it’ll be essential for brands to activate compliance efforts and leverage privacy as a competitive differentiator.
Below are three considerations for companies that are asking themselves, “where do we go from here?” on the one year anniversary of the GDPR:
Get Off The Fence
Companies looking to make the next step in their compliance journey will need to make a conscious decision to “get off the fence.” Going all-in, when it comes to people, time, effort and investments will be vital for organizations in this middle-ground. One year after the GDPR, a lot of organizations are still in a holding pattern to see what will be done more broadly with the regulation and how the regulator will react. Communicating privacy policies clearly to customers, suppliers and employees, working closely with a compliance officer to understand new laws and regulations, and dedicating resources to continually fine-tune a proactive approach are all ways leadership can accelerate compliance. To take the inevitable and necessary next steps, it’s important for leaders to eradicate the fear around compliance and embrace more sophisticated and safe ways to cross their T’s and dot their I’s.
Make Strategy a Priority, Not a Perk
The conversation around data privacy has significantly increased since the GDPR went into effect. In fact, the most influential leaders of the most profitable companies are speaking out in favor of more government regulations to accommodate demands for more corporate control. Privacy must be top-of-mind for decision makers in order to maintain a competitive edge in today’s hyperconnected world. When customers disclose personal information, they aren’t looking at data privacy as an added benefit to their experience. It is now an expected requirement that their data will be safe and adhere to global regulations. Moving forward, the most successful companies will be the ones that view compliance as a strategic, competitive advantage – not an add-on benefit to their existing customer service. This attitude should be embedded in a company’s executive strategy from top to bottom, before a compliance officer even enters the scene.
Leverage Automation & Analytics to Close The Gap
While it is not the only requirement when it comes to augmenting compliance efforts, technology is an important factor in making sure billions of customer/brand interactions are secured. Automation and analytics technology should be implemented enterprise-wide to enhance efficiencies, meet rapid response requirements and make sure data is properly processed and stored. Any third-party organizations that a company works with should also have this technology in place to ensure continuity. Organizations that work with customers need to invest in technology that is complimentary of the omnichannel customer experience and existing processes. For example, being able to record voice exchanges and archive chatbot conversations will be crucial. Lastly, training comes hand in hand with the implementation of new technology – making sure that employees have a level with comfort with new, automated processes will be essential to make these procedures sustainable.
Whether the push is coming from the GDPR’s first birthday, or demands from consumers – companies will need to ramp up data privacy and compliance efforts to keep pace. Moving forward, customer trust will be paramount. If data is not safeguarded and compliant, brands will lose the valued trust of customers and as a result, lose business to competitors. It’s no longer enough for companies to show intent when it comes to compliance. In the months and years that follow, organizations will need to adopt a compliance-first culture, innovate accordingly and support the next step in the pursuit of total compliance.