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GDPR and Big Data – An Opportunity to Excel

GDPR and Big Data – An Opportunity to Excel
May 30, 2018 Red Flag Alert Updated On: July 22, 2022

The new GDPR regulations have been coming for a long time but, predictably, businesses have faced a difficult few weeks as the deadline drew nearer. Many were ill-prepared and ill-informed regarding how to ensure they were compliant. GDPR is primarily concerned with privacy so businesses need to have policies and procedures in place that ensure the security of the data they hold.

The problem is that for many businesses, much of their value is derived from the data they hold and use – constraints on the use of this data can be catastrophic for companies that rely on what we now rather fashionably call ‘big data’.

In light of GDPR we’ve put together some guidance on how to treat big data in your business.

A long road to a new data world

Data breaches and crises are becoming common, with small businesses, large corporations and governments all affected. We’re still very much in an era of fear and uncertainty; most businesses are poorly informed on how to ensure the safety of their users’ data. This is a massive problem being exploited by a range of gangsters, activists, governments and mischief-makers. GDPR has been developed to set standards and ensure that businesses start to treat data seriously.

This new age will see sharp crackdowns on organisations that flout the regulations; the free-for-all of the noughties and the following years is coming to an end. Consumer expectations are going to change and businesses that don’t build the right processes will lose credibility. It’s yet to be seen how widespread severe financial sanctions will be: the key driver to change may be the individuals who demand better conduct from businesses as their rights come into focus through GDPR.

Thrive in the new world

Many businesses are going to suffer if they fail to put good processes in place; there is a clear emphasis on collection, sharing and handling data. For well-prepared businesses, having the right GDPR policy can be a huge competitive advantage. Being able to explain clearly to regulators how your data management policy works will save time, money and energy but, more importantly, being able to demonstrate to consumers you treat their data respectfully will be just as vital.

Knowing the GDPR regulations will help you progress in the right direction and a compliant big data strategy can be a key differentiator. In this new world there will be more barriers to holding information so businesses who can still capture, process and commercialise data will be valuable – because it will be harder to achieve this.

Getting your big data operations right

Big data is here to stay – it’s too important to be left behind. From medicine to housing, communications or any key sector, big data is going to be a key driver in improvements to business, living standards and society as a whole. Regulators want to keep these benefits while protecting consumers. Great businesses will find a way to keep moving forward and keep both consumers and regulators happy.

Every business will use data in a slightly different way, so each will need to build a solution relevant to them. The principles of understanding where data resides, risks around data, ongoing modifications to mitigate risk, and IT security will underpin a successful plan and it needn’t stymie the use of big data as a potent asset for business – the need for an understanding of the regulatory framework and the acceptance that there is no out-of-the-box solution is an important starting point.

These steps should help you think about how you can make a success of big data while maintaining compliance.

1.      Data governance that works

Having a clear view of data as it enters your business and what happens to it is absolutely crucial. If you’re taking advantage of big data you’ll probably be using it for multiple purposes that need to be closely documented. With good documentation you will be able to use data in a number of ways and better documentation is likely to give a clearer view on your data and how you can use it for commercial purposes – there will be huge advantages to implementing data governance beyond just the GDPR regulations.

2.      Consolidation is key

Being able to pull out a user’s data across multiple formats and sections in your dataset will be critical for GDPR compliance. If done well, having data that is clearly labelled and searchable can enhance your ability to use it. Again, this is an example of how GDPR compliance and successful use of big data are compatible.

3.      Security Protocols

As we all know, security breaches have become more and more common: a trend which is set to continue. GDPR is stringent on security protocols and especially performance, so if someone asks for their data it can be retrieved quickly. Encrypting data and having records of physical storage where relevant will be critical for compliance. Of course, great security is going to have benefits beyond just compliance.

Opportunity knocks

The wind is blowing one way: data regulation will get tighter and individuals will enjoy more and more rights regarding their data. By getting the right processes in place now you will avoid bigger problems in the future.

As you’ve seen, GDPR is painful and will drag a lot of businesses over the coals but by adhering to the regulations you’ll be making your data management processes better. Many businesses will fail, so if you can succeed in upgrading your systems the regulations will improve your business. This is an opportunity.

Red Flag is perfectly placed to help you build robust GDPR policies. Our up-to-date business intelligence and team of experts offer a free initial consultation assessing:

  • How well you currently data support GDPR compliance.
  • Recommendations on how data can be used more effectively.
  • How to make the most out of your data while remaining GDPR compliant.

To book a free consultation please contact Richard West on or 0344 412 6699.


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