With the implementation date of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) fast approaching, businesses are faced with the challenges of compliance by 25th May 2018.

As digital technology continues to transform the way in which we live, and “big data” becomes increasingly integrated with traditional business analytics, it’s important that the legal framework for data also evolves. A new set of regulations determining how we govern data protection is a logical next step in this new era.

For businesses, comprehensive data sets are a commodity that power competitive advantage. Their value has helped to transform early-noughties start-ups such as Facebook, Google and Airbnb into global tech titans, reshaping entire industries in the image of actionable and intelligent data-driven insight.

A unified data strategy can help businesses increase market share, unlock new revenue streams and solidify customer loyalty. The European Commission estimates that the digitalisation of products and services can act to fuel business growth, adding an estimated €110 billion a year to the economy. The government and management of that data will be important in bringing that figure to fruition.

But among the optimism, there’s cause for concern – especially in the UK. A recent government survey looking at the challenges of GDPR has revealed that 38 per cent of businesses and 44 per cent charities have not heard of the regulations. Only a quarter said that they had made the necessary changes to work towards compliance in the run up to the May 25th implementation date.

While many businesses already employ stringent management practices when it comes to data protection, it’s important they review these processes to see if changes are needed to comply. The penalty for failure can rise as high as four per cent of an organisation’s annual turnover.

It’s time for organisations to familiarise themselves with GDPR, act upon the new requirements and take a holistic approach to management and governance. Almost all businesses today have embraced, and are engaged in, using data to drive commercial efforts.

By understanding how data trends are changing and how legislation such as GDPR are redefining the way in which data will be governed, businesses can put in place long-term plans to scale, innovate and compete.

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