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October 24, 2018

The Tortoise and the Hare: SAS on the Race Between Innovation and Privacy Under GDPR

GDPR has actually made using data easier, says SAS's Olivier Penel

By jonathan chadwick

At SAS’s Analytics X 2018 conference in Milan on Wednesday, the American multinational’s Olivier Penel likened an organisation’s challenge of balancing analytics innovation with privacy requirements as “a bit of a race” – with these two competitors operating at very different paces.

On the one side are new technologies and new digital behaviours, the EMEA analytics sales lead said, while on the other is the right of the people to have their privacy protected. With GDPR having come into effect this year, the challenge is make sure fast-moving innovations don’t leave slower moving regulations behind.

Yet despite the different paces R&D teams and regulators might set, these two tracks are not really at odds with each other: the “tortoise” of privacy is becoming not just a regulatory requirement but “really fashionable” and a “way to build your brand” for organisations, he noted, even has the hare of innovation takes off.

And ultimately, he suggested, GDPR has made using data easier.

Analytics X: Privacy is Popular… 

He told Computer Business Review: “The planet’s really aligned with increased awareness of the need for privacy – it’s every day in your newspaper, those data breaches, misuse of data, political parties using data to influence elections, all the fake news and everything.”

Yet rather than GDPR being a constraint for companies who are working with customer data, there are huge opportunities to use GDPR as a way to innovate for those that “look at the sub-text”, he emphasised.

Those companies can then build transparency, win trust of customers, and will be more likely to gain consent of their customers’ data.

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“It’s now easier for all of us to use data, share data, to monetise data than it was before the GDPR. Because before the GDPR, you had to comply with 27 different bits of legislation; today you have to comply with one.

“Those organisations who don’t miss the train and don’t overreact with the GDPR have the opportunity to create a competitive edge by applying analytics from their data in a way that is respectful of the privacy of individuals. And the GDPR is designed to make it possible; it’s not designed to stop you using personal data.”

There are also a lot of new startups being created under privacy, as well as technologies that are being invented every day to support privacy requirements, in the areas of identity verification, personal data bubbles and blockchain certification, Penel said.

Read more: Google Cloud Highlights its GDPR Compliance  ools at Next London 2018

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