Pricing your investment in GDPR

Pricing your investment in GDPR

More likely than not, the volume of the data your organization captures grows by an average of 40% a year. What is investing in your data, not to mention data protection, really worth?

The value of your “digital properties” should be kept in mind when weighing the costs and benefits of GRDP implementation. The Economist reports that the net profits of the data-centric GAFA corporations surpassed $25 billion for the first quarter of 2017 alone.The European Commission estimates that the value of personalized data will reach 1 trillion euros by 2020, almost 8% of the EU’s GDP. Cap Gemini’s survey of corporate business executives found that 61% of the respondents “acknowledge that big data is becoming as valuable to their businesses as their existing products and services. What do we mean by digital properties, how much are they worth to your organization, and why should your training on GRDP implementation be based on their true costs and benefits?

As you skim through your activity streams in WhatsApp and LinkedIn it is difficult to imagine anyone would pay tens of billions of dollars for either company. Yet, the financial evaluation of these data-driven organizations wasn’t based on the quantity of the data, but on the quality of their intangible assets. Traditionally, most organizations evaluate the investments made in storing, protecting, accessing, and analyzing increasing massive amounts of data. These financial evaluations are then discounted over time to reflect the decreasing returns on investment. This vision of viewing information technology as tangible assets is challenged today by our increasing reliance on open data and on-demand applications, as well as concerns over the costs of potential data breaches.

Contrastingly, as Riley Newman of Wave Capital reminds us, data isn’t just data — it is a more or less precise mirror of our customer conversations.[v] If captured and nurtured correctly, data reflects our understanding of current economic realities, and help us predict and influence how consumers will value their experiences over time. If data in itself has no intrinsic value, the value is in the platforms, processes, and mindsets we put in place to capture how data reflects and influence customer experiences.[vi] Unlike tangible assets, the value of these “intangible” digital properties grows over time through network effects as more and more people use them. Your current investments in GDPR will protect, and even enhance the perceived value of these digital properties today and in the future.

Digital properties provide a measurable link between an organization and its customers. Consumers trade their private data for more tailored choices in deciding which ideas, services, and products they wish to purchase. This usage-based definition of the value of intangibles suggests that the worth of digital properties is seen quite differently by your customers and stockholders. Regardless of the question of who legally owns the data –customer perceptions of trust and confidence in the organization depend on how their data is processed. Whether your organization is a data controller or a data processor, GDPR has been designed to “coax” you to protect the privacy and the security of this personal data.

Lee Schlenker is a Professor at ESC Pau, and a Principal in the Business Analytics Institute His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at You can him on Twitter at

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