Compliance regulations are the law, but laws can be cumbersome — especially when they require a major overhaul of the processes by which companies have managed their data for years. Even under new or well-established law, many companies are not doing compliance well — and others, not at all.
Instead of continuing to risk slower processes, data loss, major fines and angry customers, companies need to harness technology to aid in compliance.
I have worked in digital document management for over 20 years, so I can see both sides of the pain involved in data protection and privacy regulations. We are a global company with dual headquarters, one in Germany and one in the United States, so we had to work fast and furiously to comply with the European Union deadlines for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The task felt overwhelming at first, but as we checked off the multiple requirements for keeping our customers' data safe, it all started to make sense and truly like the right thing to do. We experienced a corporate mindset shift from "having to" do this to wanting to do it.
In all data management companies, there is no room for error because there is no room for error for the customer. On our own journey, we discovered that organizations that are compliant stand out from the crowd — and what business doesn’t want that? While compliance requires that data is managed, stored and accessed more securely, a serendipitous side effect of this requirement is better-organized data. Data that is organized makes for a superior customer experience when it is accessed. With technology in place to help the organization reach compliance benchmarks, you place your business firmly on the growth and expansion path, while also performing higher in customer experience and brand reputation.
What every business leader should knowHIPAA and GDPR compliance are the boxes every modern business must be able to check off with confidence. HIPAA identifies and protects the individual’s needs to access their personal health information while regulating the use and disclosure of an individual’s health information in any format. GDPR unifies data protection laws across the entire EU, with the intention of strengthening the privacy rights of all individuals. Both rulings reflect the global trends that hold companies accountable for how they request, store and provide access to personal data, and should be taken seriously by any organization to which they apply.
Because these laws are so complex, many smart leaders turn to technology-driven solutions to help ensure compliance. When reviewing data compliance solutions, here is what every business leader must know about their own processes:
- How data is currently collected and stored.
- How data is currently accessed and used.
- How data is currently deleted and “forgotten.”
- If nuanced access rights be provided to users for specific data.
How to select the best solution for your organizationOnce specific data processes have been identified, business leaders can move on to selecting the best technology solution for their needs. The choices can be narrowed down by answering the following questions:
- Is your business required by law to house all data on-premises or can secure cloud-based applications be used for storage?
- Does your business have the resources and internal IT expertise to purchase an intuitive “off-the-shelf” solution that can be easily installed and configured in-house?
- What is your compliance time frame, and how much downtime is acceptable? If compliance must happen as soon as possible and downtime is not an option, a preconfigured data management solution is what your business should consider.
- Realize superior security for all data company-wide.
- See elevated staff productivity. Data stored correctly means less searching and less confusion.
- Be able to meet and comply with customer data requests efficiently and without fumbling the ball.
- Enjoy greater customer trust, positive word-of-mouth and a polished brand reputation.
The bottom line for all of us is that our organizations are being held to new and higher standards, so ensuring your compliance efforts are up to par is critical. And the upside is equally powerful, because compliance truly does offer a competitive edge.
Dr. Michael Berger is Co-President of the DocuWare Group. Dr. Berger holds a Ph.D. in computer science specializing in distributed and intelligent systems.
This article was originally published by the Forbes Technology Council.