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Just as New Year’s affords us the conceptual opportunity to annually reevaluate who we are and what our plans should be, international Data Privacy Day (or Data Protection Day in Europe), observed Jan. 28, gives organizations the opportunity to revisit their commitment to data privacy. Unfortunately, like so many resolutions, data privacy is often pushed down the to-do list in favor of items that seem more pressing (or less daunting).

While individuals and organizations differ in how they approach bettering themselves, an individual’s New Year’s resolutions can actually align with an organization’s commitment to data privacy.

  • Be healthier – Perhaps the most common resolution is to take a more mindful role in how we treat our bodies with the focus on living longer, healthier lives. Similarly, organizations should look holistically at their systems because they may not be overindulging on ice cream, but they do have a tendency to binge on personal data. Organizations can minimize risk and even operate more efficiently by cutting down on the excess personal data they digest.
  • Exercise more – To an organization, that means taking time to assess its personal data processing practices and addressing the identified gaps. It should also monitor to make sure it stays current on updates (and doesn’t let those bad habits creep back in!).
  • Get organized – In the case of data privacy, most organizations aren’t sure what they have (or even where they have it). Data privacy maturity starts with taking the time to identify what personal data the organization has and why it has it. Then, it should make certain that information is protected accordingly, and that it rids itself of what it doesn’t need. Also, it should remember to update its privacy policy, which should be revisited at least annually.
  • Lose weight – Organizations often hold on to excess personal data in their IT systems. If they shed some of that “extra weight,” the systems typically perform better, and the organization decreases certain risks. A sound data privacy practice is to keep personal data only as long as it is needed.  
  • Learn a new skill – Organizations can stay on top of data privacy by providing their employees with educational materials and opportunities through training and awareness campaigns.  Through these types of instruction, employees learn new leading practices for data privacy and, at the same time, how they can decrease risks from the often-unintended adverse outcomes associated with poor data processing procedures.  
  • Save money – When it comes to data privacy, inadequate processes can increase the likelihood of not only potential fines and penalties, but also reputational damages which can be just as financially harmful. In addition to implementing viable data privacy practices, organizations should create operational efficiencies around institutionalizing key data privacy principles and practices. saving even more money by not having to react every time a new data privacy law goes into effect.
  • Reduce stress – An organization can reduce stress on its employees by having a strategy in place that ensures the organization is properly addressing data privacy by accepting leading practices and principles and being transparent about how the organization uses personal data. After all, organizations are made up of the individuals that work there and are supported by the individuals that use their products and services. If an organization can put into place sound data privacy practices, it will lower stress for both sides.

If your organization has already made data privacy a priority, this article is just a reminder to take a moment on Jan. 28 to reiterate the importance of data privacy with your staff and keep up the good work.

On the other hand, if your organization is struggling to address data privacy, take the day to meet with your organizations leaders to discuss concerns and challenge your organization by asking them what their data privacy resolutions are for 2022. 

If you have questions about data privacy, or to learn how Baker Tilly Value Architects™ can help, contact our team.

Mike Vanderbilt
Director, PMP, CIPP/E
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