Why data privacy requires a cross-functional approach

Our lives have become increasingly digital over the last few decades and the rate of digital transformation has skyrocketed in recent weeks due to the global health crisis. Spending more time ingrained in the digital world means more data generated. More data generated means more analyses and insights for businesses. More analyses and insights leads to powerful business decisions and outcomes. 

More data fuels opportunities to achieve Data Intelligence, but it also means organizations have more data to protect and keep compliant. In our last blog, we discussed the importance of data governance when building an effective data privacy and compliance program. Now we’re moving a little bit deeper into how your data team can collaborate with others to implement a privacy strategy. It’s important to recognize that data privacy requires action and input from every part of the business. Organizations need to take a cross-functional approach and embrace collaboration in order to establish data privacy into their daily operations.

1. Access to personal information benefits every department

We need to break down the conventional wisdom that data privacy only affects certain teams, legal and IT. Although they may not realize, teammates across every department in every industry handle personal information on a regular basis.

  • Legal: Sets forth the compliance requirements that the organization follows 
  • IT: Manages the flow of data across internal and external systems
  • Human Resources: Collects, stores, and retains personal information for employees, past employees, applicants, freelancers, and third parties
  • Sales and Marketing: Creates targeted campaigns based on personal data
  • Finance: unlocks insights about new markets and investment opportunities
  • Data Governance: Get deep in the trenches to analyze data and improve quality of information

2. Poor data privacy harms every department

Since every department uses personal data, every department feels the pain caused by poor data privacy management. After a data incident and an organization is hit with a fine, work does not go back to business as usual. Every team is affected and is left to deal with some matter of the remediation efforts.

  • Legal: handles lawsuits and examines vulnerabilities
  • IT: wastes times evaluating the security of technology tools
  • Human Resources: handles compromised employee data and employee trust fallout
  • Sales and Marketing: manages damage brand reputation, loss of trust, and decreased market share
  • Finance: scrambles to find funds to cover fines and feels the burden of lost revenue
  • Data Governance: spends time on damage control rather than value add activities

3. Collaboration is key

Developing a privacy strategy is no simple feat. And implementing one presents a whole set of challenges on its own. To drive an effective privacy strategy, you need to empower your organization to collaborate and consider the following measures.

  • Embrace the value of knowledge diversity: Every team has unique experiences and expertise. Leverage the knowledge diversity across departments to identify innovative ways to solve problems.
  • Develop frameworks: Don’t go dive into a privacy program without a solid foundation. Data governance is a great starting point for data privacy and the right infrastructure will enable you to sustain data privacy as regulations change and your organization grows.
  • Establish a centralized location for collaboration: In order to collaborate, the team needs to operate in one place. Break down organizational silos and implement systems and technology to bring stakeholders together.
  • Promote a Data Intelligent culture: Adhering to new policies and procedures requires some behavioral changes. Communicate the value of data privacy and empower an organization to unlock the value of its data.

4. Privacy promotes optimal performance

When data privacy is embedded in an organization’s culture and operations, the organization can make trusted data-driven decisions and achieve Data Intelligence. As the going gets tough, remember that data privacy can generate many positive business outcomes.

  • Operational efficiency
  • Increased agility
  • Reduced risk
  • Cost reduction
  • Stronger customer trust
  • Improved data quality
  • Competitive differentiation
  • More time to focus on innovation

How to get started

“Fostering collaboration” is an overused buzzword, but it has a lot of value. It’s also much easier said than done. To promote cross-functional privacy operations, you’ll need a solid starting point.

Create a committee that defines the privacy vision that aligns with company values. Identify subject matter experts across the organization. Different people in different departments have specific expertise that can help you develop a framework for data privacy and protection. All the teams are interdependent. Your data department or data governance department is the best suited to coordinate this collaboration. Look out for some of the following abilities across departments.

  • Legal: Knowledge of legal requirements and applicable jurisdictions
  • IT: Technical skills needed to adjust current architecture and evaluate new options
  • Human Resources: Understanding the complexities of transforming organizational culture
  • Sales and Marketing: Knowledge of business processes and operation and brand risk management
  • Finance: Visibility into budgetary and financial risks
  • Data Governance: The true leaders of the initiative by managing the coordination between functions, overseeing data management, issuing data policies, conducting assessments, and monitoring and maintaining efficiency and compliance

Embracing data governance and collaboration across teams are the first two steps of creating a data privacy strategy. Tune in next week when we’ll dive a little bit deeper into how you can embed privacy by design in your organizational culture.

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