Why New Privacy Regulations Are A Business Enabler, Not An Enemy

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As Shep Hyken recently noted, personalization continues to become more personal in the customer service field. Personal information (PI) is the future of business, as it provides clients with a customized experience and helps businesses eventually sell more.

However, it means companies will have to curb the wave of consumer rights advocacy and comply with at least one privacy regulation, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the recently proposed U.S. federal privacy law Data Care Act and so on.

One may treat privacy legislation, with its strict requirements and enormous penalties, as a big stumbling block for business, but I perceive it as a huge enabler. Here are five ways privacy regulations may help boost your business.

1. Optimize business processes.

Privacy regulations enable greater transparency around the data collected by your company. For example, the CCPA requires businesses to disclose the “categories and specific pieces of personal information the business has collected” about them. Though not all privacy laws require you to explicitly inform customers on that information, companies still need to thoroughly audit the data they have to understand what kind of information they store and why.

This is a brilliant opportunity to ask yourself why you collect this data, whether you use it efficiently and how you can optimize its use. This deeper understanding of the data flow will provide more visibility into your business processes and help optimize them or find new ways of leveraging gathered data (by providing extra personalized experiences, for example).

2. Improve data management and achieve cost efficiency.

Another question you may ask yourself after auditing the data is whether you really need all of this data. Most likely, you don’t need it all. Thus, ongoing auditing for the sake of compliance will actually enable your company to prune out unnecessary data, such as redundant, obsolete and trivial (ROT) files, that have no value to your business.

By cleaning up repositories, you can slash costs on data processing and storage, get more predictive bills if you store data in the cloud and wisely allocate your budget.

3. Create a global knowledge base for employees.

Privacy laws grant consumers control over the data businesses hold on them, such as the CCPA’s right to erasure or the GDPR’s right to be forgotten, the right to access and modify data and so on. To handle these requests, you should improve the findability of data (i.e., reorganize repositories and make data globally indexed and searchable).

It’s hard to achieve this without investing in additional technologies, such as data classification and enterprise search software. But it wouldn’t be cost-efficient to spend X amount of money and human resources to deploy this technology just to satisfy occasional data subject requests. This is like buying a Porsche just to drive your children to school down the block.

Instead, you can use additional capabilities to reorganize and index the data you have, or at least the data business employees might need — not just consumers’ PI. This way, your company will improve its corporate memory. Moreover, employees will be more efficient while working with accessible, exhaustive and searchable data, won’t lose business opportunities and will keep contributing to the company’s long-term growth.

4. Achieve audience loyalty and trust.

To truly benefit from the privacy legislation, it’s important to step up and voluntarily take extra responsibilities by extending privacy requirements to all of your clients, not just those who are protected by the CCPA (California consumers), the GDPR (EU residents) or any other standard. By meeting customer demands for data privacy globally, your business will create a stronger bond between your brand and clients.

This can be used as part of impactful positioning that will give you a competitive advantage and help you stand out from the crowd. You can demonstrate to clients that your company is done with annoyingly formal checkboxes and cookie notifications. Instead, show that you are eager to provide them with a clear privacy policy statement explaining how all your customers can benefit from entrusting you with their PI and what measures your company takes to secure it.

The greatest way to tackle data privacy is by being honest and straightforward about it. When people become increasingly suspicious about their privacy, such an attitude is a way to go.

5. Revamp the security strategy.

The cost of data breaches and business downtime due to theft or loss of critical data continues to grow. So, another benefit of privacy legislation is encouraging companies to overhaul their security policies.

Indeed, it is almost impossible to only protect regulated data and leave the rest of the IT infrastructure out of scope. Therefore, your company will have to establish stricter control over activity across the entire IT environment, initiate solid data protection workflows and better comprehend IT risks. In the long run, this will help you invest more adequate resources in security and decrease the risk of severe security incidents.

There’s no doubt that achieving compliance with data privacy laws is stressful and resource-intensive, and many companies will be prone to taking a formal approach to it. However, don’t be shortsighted. Adhering to data privacy standards is more than marking a checkbox — it is a way to greatly boost your business, stay ahead of the competition and meet the global demand for business consciousness and respect for human privacy.

This article was originally published by Forbes.