Beyond The Shadow Of GDPR Fines Lies Huge Opportunity

Emmanuelle Brun Neckebrock

With GDPR compliance less than a year away, some CFOs I speak with have yet to look past the risk of a big fine. If you’re one of them, then this blog is for you. Yes, GDPR is a costly compliance matter that you absolutely cannot afford to get wrong – especially as regulators will be looking to make early examples of companies that fall foul of the new regulations. It casts a big shadow. (Who wouldn’t lose sleep over potential penalties big enough to cripple or shut down European operations?) But if that’s all you see, you’re missing the wider, more strategic point: GDPR – if managed properly – is an incredible opportunity for growth.

It represents a catalyst that’s set to create a fundamental shift in the digital economy. The problem is, many organizations have left responsibility for tackling GDPR solely to their compliance teams, based largely out of fear of catastrophic penalties. While we must, of course, all be complaint by May 2018, smarter CFOs are also looking to leverage the opportunities GDPR brings. If you look at the bigger picture and view GDPR compliance in the wider context of your company’s digital evolution, you’ll see the opportunity for both acceleration and growth. Let me explain.

Data governance as competitive edge

Data is one of your company’s most valued resources, yet one of the most poorly managed. It’s the golden thread that runs through the entire organization, and in most instances, it is managed casually and inconsistently, depending on individual employees and departments. You wouldn’t let your revenue, products, or equipment assets be handled that way, so data (given its inherent value) shouldn’t be any different and warrants the same due care and attention.

As CFOs, we should be leading from the front, looking at the best – and safest ways – to monetize this asset. GDPR legislation is unique in that it allows you (OK, forces you) to transform the way you handle data across the whole organization, managing associated risks and compliance. In doing so, it’s actually strengthening your ability to compete on the digital playing field, making you more agile for long-term success.

Governance excellence (underpinned by automated risk, compliance, and audit processes), combined with information excellence, can yield significant efficiencies. For example, in our own SAP performance benchmarks, we’ve seen an impressive 50% decrease in audit cycle time with automated and continuous management of controls. That means with the right systems in place, your business can run live: it can sense, respond, learn, adapt, and predict to meet and create customer demand – and do so in the moment of opportunity.

Beyond risk management

As power shifts to individual consumers, customers will favor those companies with sound governance and adherence to GDPR, as it will form part of your brand reputation in the digital economy. If you haven’t already done so, I’d urge you to look beyond simply avoiding a fine, and create a strategy for your finance organization and the wider business to harness the benefits it will deliver. It really is a transformational opportunity.

Data (and its responsible management) are at the core of this digital transformation, with GDPR demanding that all of us raise our game. In the proverbial carrot-and-stick scenario, don’t let the size of the GDPR compliance stick blind you the sizable opportunities of the data management carrot.

Find out more about turning GDPR compliance into a growth opportunity.

This blog originally appeared on CFO Magazine online and is republished by permission.

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Emmanuelle Brun Neckebrock

About Emmanuelle Brun Neckebrock

Emmanuelle Brun Neckebrock is CFO of SAP France. With more than 20 years’ experience, she is responsible for the coordination of SAP activities in France linked to acquisition and integration. She has recently taken over the responsibility of developing the healthcare sector within SAP France with a mission of actively promoting digital transformation in healthcare. Emmanuelle holds a degree in Finance from HEC Paris. Her blogs discuss the strategic challenges and topical issues facing CFOs.