Dr. Claus-Dieter Ulmer
29. November 2017 0

Digital growth requires data privacy

Why companies need to place importance on competent young staff

In the opinion of the Fraunhofer Institute, the use of big data by companies is a key example of the urgent need for data privacy. On the one hand, companies require the generated information more than ever. It is the only way to enable future production or optimize services. And it is the only way for marketers to serve advertisements that are tailored to individual audience segments. Data is the essential fuel for all of this. On the other hand, companies suddenly face a multitude of customer and transaction data, which they must process and store in structured form. And they face the immense challenge of ensuring that all data is utilized, stored, and deleted in accordance with data privacy laws – particularly against the backdrop of the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

In the meantime, a number of mature solutions and concepts are available – such as anonymization and deletion procedures, access permission organization, integrity protection, and cyberdefense tools. Yet the experts at the Fraunhofer Institute argue, justifiably, that their development and use are tied to digital skills that have not yet been trained sufficiently – in other words, there is a lack of data privacy and protection experts at companies.

An interesting aspect. After all, the fact that data security has become a hot topic nationwide is old news. But Fraunhofer researcher Professor Rüdiger Grimm points out, again justifiably, that the topic of data privacy deserves just as much attention. At the same time, he reveals the areas where there is a dire need for action. As such, companies have to train and qualify their IT developers and technicians to develop suitable anonymization procedures, encryption mechanisms, and analytics tools. They also require knowledge of network and storage technologies, as well as of entirely new approaches such as blockchain computing. These skills, says the expert, must also be incorporated in vocational training and degree courses at colleges and universities. Ultimately, the data privacy officers and analysts at companies must be given additional professional training to ensure that they can collect, store, anonymize, and delete data in a legally compliant way, as well as manage access authorization appropriately.

These training initiatives are not only needed to ensure that companies comply with legal regulations such as the GDPR; they are simply an economic necessity. A number of surveys by BITKOM, the German Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media, have shown how difficult it is for German companies to keep pace with digitization. The shortage of experts is “endangering the digital transformation,” said former BITKOM president Thorsten Dirks earlier this year. To counter this problem, the current BITKOM president Achim Berg also calls for a digital education initiative: “All educational institutions, from elementary schools to universities and further education facilities, should focus their curricula on digital education, to strengthen and reinforce the increasingly important digital skills,” says Berg.

Data privacy is an integral part of these digital skills. Data security and data privacy are a necessary component for using promising tools like big data analytics – anything else would be grossly negligent and would put digital growth prospects at risk.

Further information on the topic “General Data Protection Regulation” can be found here.

My next blog article will also focus on the topic of data privacy, specifically the dangers of cybercrime.


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