Gatuyu Justice, Business Daily

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.[i] 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.[ii] The European Commission estimates that the value of personalized data will reach 1 trillion euros by 2020, almost 8% of the EU’s GDP.[iii] 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.[iv] 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.

In our MasterClass on the High Road to GDPR our participants explore the real costs and benefits of compliance. Limiting the role of a Data Protection Officer to that of preparing administrative documentation on compliance neglects the need to foster an organizational vision of how data plays a critical role in your bottom line. Firefighting a future data breach isn’t the same thing as growing customer perceptions of trust and confidence in your organization. Describing the processes of data collection, processing, and dissemination in a DPIA neglects the more critical question of how your strategic vision contributes to the present reality and future potential of your digital properties. By lifting the conversation from one of legal sanctions to that of digital strategy, the MasterClass can help your technical, operational, and strategic managers take the high road to your organization’s future profits.

Sign up for our new one-day MasterClass “The High Road to GDPR”. The practice of business analytics is the heart and soul of the Business Analytics Institute. In our Summer School in Bayonne, as well as in our Master Classes in Europe, our focus on digital economics, data-driven decision making, machine learning, and visual communications will put analytics to work for you and your organization.

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 follow us on Twitter at


[i] Short, J.E., (2017), What’s Your Data Worth?, Sloan Management Review

[ii] The Economist, (2017), Fuel of the Future

[iii]European Commission, (2017), Fact Sheet — Data Protection Reform Package

[iv]Cap Gemini, (2015), Big & Fast Data: the rise of the insight-driven business

[v] Newman, Riley, (2015), How we scaled data science to all sides of Airbnb over 5 years of hypergrowth, Venture Beat

[vi] Schlenker, L. (2017). What do we really need to know about Data?, Towards Data Science