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Embrace GDPR, don’t fear it

They say data is the new currency.

The introduction of GDPR, the new European-wide data protection legislation which comes into effect from 25th May 2018, is being viewed by many businesses as yet another piece of business upheaval. Yet, interestingly, the changes advocated by GDPR could also be a precursor to a new wave of business innovation, potential new business models and additional revenue streams.

Indeed, we could be about to witness a repeat of the transformational leap the business world experienced the last time data protection regulation was reviewed back in 1998.

Since that time, the emergence of the mobile internet economy that we all now take for granted, and the creation of data-rich giants such as Google, Facebook and Twitter has become an everyday reality.  It has also created a commercial environment that is forcing organisations to be much more aware of the data-related compliance challenges they face.  If they do not, potentially catastrophic fines will be levied, putting the very survival of companies at risk.

But the upside of this new data world order as far as personal information access and management is concerned, is that it also offers real opportunity that can drive innovative thinking in critical areas.

The value of personal data

Think, for instance, of the possibilities around the development of a new personal data economy? With GDPR legislation significantly strengthening the rights of individuals on consent and viewing personal data held by businesses, new technologies are already emerging that give consumers the ability to own their data and have a choice about whom they share it with, and for what return.

Data asset mapping

Likewise, with organisations having had to essentially re-map the data assets they hold due to the requirements of GDPR, companies now have a far more transparent view of the information they retain, how the data is linked and where the data is deposited within the company structure.

This type of intelligence is unlikely to have been formally investigated and mapped before GDPR, but such an inventory can support company ambitions to think differently about what they can use the data assets for and potentially look at them as a base to create new products and services.

This could be particularly relevant in the manufacturing sector. Such organisations already rely heavily on analysing data related to their products, supply chains, vendors, employees and customers in order to obtain insights and gain a competitive advantage.

Data-centric digitalisation – the technology focus behind Industry 4.0 – is gradually gaining a transformative foothold across the manufacturing sector as UK companies begin their digital journey to a more productive, flexible and successful future.  The ability to intelligently mine the data assets they hold in a compliant manner can only enhance market propositions, add value for customers and, ultimately, benefit the bottom line as new services and revenue streams take hold.

An opportunity not a challenge

Instead of viewing GDPR as an obstacle, companies should conversely picture it as a tangible business opportunity; one that can fuel fresh thinking through data innovation and optimise untapped potential based on the myriad data information sources they now know they have at their fingertips.

Unearthing the research and development activities that lie within companies, and building a compelling data-driven case in order to see tangible actions rewarded in the form of R&D tax credits, lies at the heart of the MPAs expertise.  As a result, many millions of pounds have been awarded to deserving and innovating UK SMEs in order to help them reinvest and grow stronger.

Companies should now be far more aware of the data assets they hold. Organisations with an eye to the future will be examining how they can innovatively maximise the value of the new ‘currency’ they possess, and like the rewards of R&D tax credits, use it to power new commercial successes.