Almost every day, we put our trust in products or services that are governed by strict regulations. I trust that my electric razor won’t cut me, I trust that the cereal I eat for breakfast is safe, and I usually feel confident that my flight will land safely. These examples are far from unique; markets with some sort of regulation are everywhere.
Regulations on products and services set a basic standard of quality and safety that in turn gives us confidence that we’re protected. While we may not know the details of the regulations that protect us every day, we become accustomed to, and demand, the level of protection they provide.
The GDPR is setting new, sometimes very strict, standards for the way that personal data can be stored and used. But while the regulation may be tough on businesses, compliance results in increased trust from customers and partners.
Is GDPR the new SOX?
13 years ago, most publicly listed companies in the world were “hit” by a new US law. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) was implemented in 2004 to combat fraud, improve the reliability of financial reporting, and restore investor confidence. The increased scrutiny was the result of corporate scandals in companies like Enron and WorldCom.
Corporate executives complained about the extensive compliance work concerning internal controls. Why should they be subjected to the same compliance burdens as those who had been negligent or dishonest? In the meantime, quite a few lawyers, auditors and consultants had an influx of work, billing time to solve their clients’ new and urgent challenges.
Was it all just costly and time-consuming compliance? No, just a few years later, articles started to appear in Harvard Business Review and other publications suggesting that SOX brought about a variety of unexpected benefits. The “winners” were businesses who seized the opportunity to use SOX as the catalyst for all the improvements their CFO knew they needed but had not yet prioritized. In short, their internal controls got better and less costly while serving the aim of strengthening investor confidence.
GDPR, like SOX, will require a lot of work, but can also provide huge benefits for those companies that seize the opportunity today to build long-term trust in their company.
What future customers will take for granted
If your company isn’t able to comply with GDPR requirements, how can your customers trust you with their sensitive data? How can they be sure you won’t resell it? And how can they trust that it’s securely stored? Not all customers care about questions like these. But they should, and they will certainly pay more attention once fines start getting handed out. Once GDPR compliance is widespread, the protection of personal data will become what users expect from all companies.
Being GDPR compliant is a safe way to get ahead - and give you a trust-based competitive edge before your customers demand it, and before lawmakers in other countries put in place similar regulations. Customers will trust companies that guard their sensitive data.
The work you do for GDPR can be leveraged to deliver additional benefits to your organization. If approached correctly, GDPR can result in value-adding projects with impact far beyond compliance.
Ardoq can help
In order to realize the benefits of GDPR compliance, you first need to get a clear understanding of what personal data exists in your organization, where it’s used and stored, who has access, and the reason for having it.
Ardoq allows you to create structured documentation of all of this data, then use that data to generate up-to-date visualizations and run automated gap analysis to spot potential issues early on.