While it’s impossible to predict the exact impact GDPR will have once it goes into effect, it’s important to recognize the positive benefits of the regulation in addition to the more commonly explored implementation challenges.

First and foremost, GDPR is designed to provide data subjects with more control over their personal data and simplify the set of data protection rules across Europe. These benefits will likely be felt the most by consumers and regulators, but what about the security and compliance teams that are tasked with enabling GDPR readiness across their organizations?

Three Benefits of GDPR Readiness for Security and Compliance Teams

As an unapologetic optimist, I believe that there are many silver linings for security and compliance teams when it comes to GDPR — and for the business overall. Let’s take a look at three ways businesses can benefit from investing in GDPR readiness.

1. Moving Beyond Check-Box Compliance

GDPR requires organizations to create a comprehensive and ongoing compliance strategy or potentially face major repercussions. Compliance is no longer a one-and-done deal where you race to pass the audit and can then breathe easy and move on to other pursuits. Organizations must build a holistic program that continuously enables them to assess, document and mitigate personal data risk.

In her January 2018 report, “The State of GDPR Readiness,” Forrester Analyst Enza Iannopollo wrote that organizations’ “approach must shift from one that is based on meeting compliance by focusing on satisfying individual requirements to one that is about building, executing and documenting a comprehensive compliance strategy, where risks are identified and mitigated consistently and effectively.” Thus, compliance becomes an ongoing activity that is integrated with security, providing a springboard to a more mature data security program.

2. Fostering Stronger Collaboration Across Business Units

GDPR-regulated data can flow throughout all aspects of an organization — from finance to marketing, customer success teams and beyond — and should be managed by even more groups, such as security, risk and compliance. There are many layers to the personal data management onion within an organization, and these layers and teams will need to work together to achieve readiness and manage ongoing compliance.

Although it may be painful at first, this is yet another silver lining to tackling GDPR readiness. Teams will now have to work cross-functionally to develop the appropriate processes, policies and frameworks to attain GDPR compliance and then work together even more to implement the necessary controls that enable their ongoing execution.

Through this collaboration, teams and business units can share best practices and develop a stronger common understanding of what GDPR compliance and data security mean for the business as a whole, while also helping to foster a greater sense of community and cohesiveness.

3. Marrying Data Security Best Practices With Corporate Culture

As we outlined above, GDPR compliance serves as a powerful springboard for improving data security practices organizationwide. Under the umbrella of GDPR compliance, data security best practices may get heightened visibility not only among security and compliance professionals, but also across the organization as a whole. This increased visibility can help business leaders gain a better understanding of why data security is important and how to bake it into existing processes companywide.

One of the greatest challenges that comes with data protection is gaining employee buy-in beyond just security, risk and compliance teams, and enabling data security best practices to become central components of corporate culture. GDPR can help provide the impetus to drive this change.

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In addition to the privacy benefits it aims to bring data subjects, GDPR also has the potential to bring internal benefits to the organizations that fully invest in and commit to ongoing GDPR compliance.

If you’re curious to learn more about GDPR through the lens of data security, check out our new microsite featuring research by Forrester.

Explore the GDPR Microsite for More Information

Notice: Clients are responsible for ensuring their own compliance with various laws and regulations, including GDPR. IBM does not provide legal advice and does not represent or warrant that its services or products will ensure that clients are in compliance with any law or regulation. Learn more about IBM’s own GDPR readiness journey and our GDPR capabilities and offerings to support your compliance journey here.

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