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As digital transformation efforts ramp up, data privacy a growing concern

As technological innovation and disruption continue to change the rules of business, board directors at public companies have increased their focus on digital transformation strategies, according to new research from professional services firm BDO USA.

The company commissioned market research firm Market Measurement to survey 180 corporate directors of public companies in July and August 2019, and more than two thirds (68 percent) said their company has a digital transformation strategy in place.

That means about one third of the companies still have catching up to do, the report said. To address digital disruption, boards are primarily increasing capital allocation to digital initiatives, developing a roadmap, and hiring board members with relevant oversight expertise.

More than a year after the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect, and with the Jan. 1, 2020 deadline for the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) looming, data privacy remains a chief concern for boards. The study showed that 46 percent said they are briefed at least quarterly on data governance.

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Nearly half (47 percent) have implemented or updated internal privacy policies, and 43 percent have expanded data privacy resources and budgeting in the past year.

“The new standard in data governance is not just privacy, it’s ethics,” said Karen Schuler, BDO’s governance, risk and compliance national leader. “Boards should ensure not only that companies are prepared to comply with current and developing data privacy regulations, but that they are implementing a holistic data ethics program with a framework that guides data ownership, transparency, consent, privacy, and financial value.”

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