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PA IN THE MEDIA

Properly utilised GDPR is an opportunity

Read the article in Swedish here

The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is likely to hamper the competitiveness of European companies, especially in competition with the United States. This is stated in the article "New Data Law A Wet Blanket Over Digitisation" (SvD Debate 14/5). But the situation is rather the opposite. For the vast majority of companies – those that aren’t like Amazon and Google, "born digital" - the new regulations mean an opportunity to become digital from the ground up and to survive in the long run.

With just over a week until the new GDPR comes into force, the debate is hotter than ever before. The statement that technology and market forces should have solved citizens' data integrity online is not correct. On the contrary, there are major shortcomings in how personal data is handled today.

Unfortunately, it is not enough to polish the surface. Digitisation is not just data analysis. Proper digitalisation means that everything is managed digitally. It requires companies to have full control of their business information, including customer and personal information. If you do, GDPR will be easy to meet, but for those who do not, the new European rules will be a driving force to get it.

The American companies that the article refers to are already fully digitised. To have a chance to compete with them and other younger and more digitised companies, our older companies have to change their mindsets and become completely digital. The new regulations provide Swedish industry with excellent reasons and good opportunities to gain control over their customer data, thus creating the prerequisites for digital services in the first place.

One possible development in the wake of the Facebook scandal may well be that more customers and consumers take ownership of their data and control the information that companies can access. Here, for example, blockchain technology can offer good solutions. In practice, it could mean that companies have customer data for as long as they offer their services, but then they are forced to return information about the customer.

Proactive innovation and legislation do not have to be contradictions; on the contrary, regulations and necessary infrastructure initiatives can create new conditions for innovation. Our recommendation is therefore not to look at GDPR as an end. To offer world-class services and products over time, companies need to:

  • create a business model that is digital in principle, with control of its information and optimised and automated processes
  • strengthen its competitiveness with digital and personalised services as well as database support
  • create understanding of employees and customers for the underlying purposes of the rules and the basic requirements they set.

The companies that do this will benefit greatly from what many see as difficult and time consuming. Properly utilised, GDPR is a great opportunity for forward-looking companies.

Magnus Eriksson is a regulatory and digitilisation specialist at PA Consulting Group

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