Accelerating data privacy to keep up with these unprecedented times

By | 2 minute read | March 18, 2021

As the unprecedented challenges of 2020 continue to compel rapid change in 2021, CDOs and CTOs remain critical partners in success. We talked about this very topic in the recent kick off of our 2021 CDO/CTO Summit series. Through examples from cybersecurity threats to the move to hybrid cloud, we agreed that the pace of digital transformation won’t let up.

A key responsibility for data and technology leaders is ensuring data privacy and security. Of course, this is not news, but the pace at which we need to deliver it is. The events of 2020 moved workers home and workloads to the cloud, ramping up concerns for data privacy and security from consumers and companies alike. Data protection legislation is only the start; enforcement activity, cross-border data flows and AI ethics are emerging focus areas as well.

My team, IBM’s Global Chief Data Office (GCDO), has a particular focus on accelerating data privacy and security in 2021. After leading the organization to GDPR compliance, we are now taking our enterprise-wide privacy regulatory compliance to the next level through a unified, automated engine. In partnership with our Security Division and our IBM Chief Privacy Office, we are building an end-to-end system on the hybrid cloud that is dramatically increasing our efficiency – realizing tens of millions of dollars in business benefit and thousands of hours in time savings – and decreasing our exposure to non-compliance fines and reputational damage.

As a global company with a legacy that spans more than 100 years, this is a major undertaking.

Our single compliance system is already unifying information from more than 6,000 internal processes across multiple business units and managing more than 400 legal entities. Our next target will unify the information from 130,000+ suppliers and partners. We are using AI to enable an enterprise-wide global baseline that streamlines compliance as new regulations arise and to target alerts for precise assessment and compliance tracking.

This data-driven engine is at the core of a user-experience-driven framework. Internally, this means a single access point for all privacy services relating to assets, processing activities and legal entities that store or process Personal Information (PI) and/or Sensitive Personal Information (SPI). Externally, we are prioritizing customer empowerment and transparency through the IBM Privacy Portal. The portal, along with the IBM Data Preference Center we built within it, allows individuals to control the information IBM has about them, allowing them to access, correct, and set or update their marketing communication preferences.

Our mission in the GCDO has always been to drive IBM’s internal transformation into an AI enterprise and then use what we create as a showcase for our clients and customers.  In 2021, we will scale our ability to share our experience. Through IBM Garages, we will be able to actually show – not just talk about — what we’ve done internally and greatly accelerate the innovation and business value we can deliver to our clients. We look forward to leveraging these garages to share our experience in delivering world-class data privacy and security.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll continue to join me at our CDO/CTO summits every other month throughout the year. Each one will bring thought leaders and respected colleagues together to share their insights on some of the most critical topics facing us today. Upcoming topics include CDOs and CTOs leading in turbulent times; getting students, fans, employees and customers back in the building; building trust in data; and balancing innovation and growth with risk and regulation. Accelerating into 2021 is just the beginning!