When the railway was invented, there was not only rejoicing about miraculously fast and comfortable travel possibilities. There were also dozens of doctors who considered a speed of 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) per hour to be fatal.

Gutenberg's book printing made it possible to reproduce books quickly, but the insecure aristocracy and clergy wondered: Should every subject be able to read the Bible or writings of science and politics and make up his own mind about them? It seems that digitization is a new chapter in an old story: Where there are groundbreaking developments happening, fears (or even apocalyptic visions) are not far behind.

GDPR = An End to the Data Driven Economy?

The widespread discussions about artificial intelligence and big data are a strong indication of the enormous upheavals these technologies have set in motion. While some rave about the blessings of the shared economy, data-based climate rescue or the Internet of Everything, others are afraid for jobs, privacy or their business model. In both cases, data is the driver of these developments.

But who owns this data? Who's in control of it? The EU's new basic data protection regulation (DSGVO/GDPR) is dedicated to these questions and today, answers it in favor of consumers. For this reason, the topic is often discussed by companies in apprehensive undertones: Is that the end to the data driven economy? Is legislation choking off innovation? What will become of the business models that are based on the free availability of data?

You can't breed cows if you don't give them grass. Businesses and consumers alike depend on access to data. How's that going to work together?”

GDPR = Business Intelligence + Consumer Intelligence

Teradata CTO Stephen Brobst takes a more optimistic look at these questions - and elegantly resolves the alleged contradictions. Rightly, he says, people don’t want to pass on their personal data unrestrictedly and uncontrollably to companies, which then derive the sole benefit from it. Unlimited access to location and contact data in exchange for Wi-Fi at the airport? That's a bad deal for customers.

But it is equally clear that progress today is first and foremost digital progress - and without data there can be no digitalization. Angela Merkel sums it up with a simple picture: "You can't breed cows if you don't give them grass. Businesses and consumers alike depend on access to data. How's that going to work together?”
We need a new deal for the management of data. A new balance between organizations and individuals. Personal information for personal use. Public data, sensor data or aggregated and anonymized data for many important purposes. This is fair - and will not harm strong sustainable business models.

The Customer Owns his Data

If the protection of their information is guaranteed, many people will gladly trade their data for benefits such as better health management or autonomous driving with fewer road deaths. The benefits of such data analysis are high, comprehensible and clear.

Industry visionaries have always said that customer satisfaction on the Internet is the key to everything. But is the customer truly king? A king decides sovereignly over his goods. The GDPR makes him - at least theoretically - the sovereign of his own data again.

Epilogue: GDPR – A Question of Technology

Data protection is not just a regulatory issue. Good data protection is also a question of the underlying technology, which can reflect the legal requirements. With the GDPR, many organizations must meet technical regulatory and analytical requirements.

For example, you have to make data anonymous wherever possible and keep track of where various kinds of data is stored within the company.

Even in times of GDPR, leveraging a comprehensive data architecture proves to be an advantage: organizations can clearly determine where data is located and to what degree of detail. This allows them to delete the data if necessary and assign the access rights as appropriate. Only those employees who are authorized to do so receive personal data.

Sascha Puljic
Sascha Puljic is vice president, Germany, Switzerland, UK & Ireland and managing director Germany at Teradata. He has been part of the IT industry for more than two decades, and he strongly believes that analytics and data unleash the potential of great companies – helping them to achieve high-impact business outcomes.
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