Ninety percent of the world’s data was generated over the last two years. By 2025, it’s estimated that over 460 exabytes of data will be created every day. While this flood of data has become indispensable for performing daily tasks in most organizations, the mismanagement or loss of it could result in operational inefficiencies, reputational damage, fines, lost revenue, and more.

As the volume and use of data grows, the need for organizations to ensure they are properly governing this massive amount of data has intensified. The rise of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA), and other data privacy regulations around the globe has put legal obligations on companies to protect this data and manage it securely. These new regulatory requirements have pushed many organizations to implement privacy governance tools to support their privacy programs and manage compliance.

Privacy governance tools like OneTrust, Nymity, and BigID have grown in popularity over the last few years as data volume increased and new privacy laws were passed, and they are expected to become even more widely adopted in the coming months. Understanding the role of these tools, the key features of privacy governance tools, and the benefits they can bring to your organization are essential when making the decision to implement a privacy governance tool. 

What is Privacy Governance?

Nearly every organization struggles with the challenge of managing and securing data and ensuring the policies, processes, and controls that govern it meet the requirements of applicable regulations. Organizations must incorporate the protection of personal information into their enterprise strategies and implement methods for governing it across the business. Before selecting and implementing a privacy governance tool, having a strong privacy governance framework in place is critical. Without it, the success of the solution will be very limited.

A comprehensive privacy governance program guides the organization in protecting personal information by creating processes and policies for inventorying and managing data, educating employees, evaluating vendors, enforcing policies, and monitoring regulatory change. It provides value to an organization by reinforcing privacy protection, which can protect an organization’s reputation, reduce the risk of regulatory penalties, and build consumer trust regarding the use of personal information – something more than 80% of consumers are concerned with.

For organizations that operate in more than one state or country, privacy governance can be used to comply with privacy regulations like the GDPR and the CCPA and monitor changes to those regulations. Since there are significant penalties for noncompliance, this is a critical function of a privacy governance program. Privacy governance tools can be adopted to improve and automate these processes, but they rely on a strong privacy governance structure to properly manage and execute these processes across the organization.

What is a Privacy Governance Tool?

An effective privacy governance strategy is fundamental for any organization handling a large volume of personal information, such as hospitals, online retailers, financial institutions, and advertisers. However, with the rise of data privacy regulations, many organizations need a way to protect the privacy and confidentiality of personal information and achieve compliance in a complex regulatory landscape. In the past, many organizations have relied on manual tools like Excel spreadsheets to map out privacy processes and manage compliance. But with the rise of flexible, automated privacy management tools, many companies are turning away from this manual, error-prone process and adopting privacy governance tools to manage compliance more effectively and better safeguard personal information.

Privacy governance software tools can automate and streamline the processes for identifying, recording, deleting, and managing new and existing personal information, while managing compliance with multiple data privacy regulations. These tools are often web-based and can be accessed from any device, providing privacy teams with a centralized solution to manage privacy compliance across the business and third parties.

There are quite a few privacy governance tools on the market today, so choosing the right tool that fits your organization’s unique regulatory landscape is crucial. The maturity of privacy management features like cookies management, data subject access rights (DSAR), and data mapping questionnaires varies greatly by tool, so doing your research and requesting demos on the features that matter most to your organization is an important step. The right tool, however, will help streamline compliance with multiple privacy regulations and build a sustainable privacy program.

Do I Need a Privacy Governance Tool?

Before selecting and implementing a privacy governance tool, it is important to understand the personal information that flows in and out of your organization, the regulatory requirements that apply to this information, and how your business uses this information. While no single privacy governance tool is perfect for every organization, gathering information about your current frameworks and data operations will narrow down your search and drive your software selection decision. A few factors to consider include:

  • What types of personal information does my organization collect?
  • How much personal information does my organization collect and store?
  • How is personal information used and stored across the organization?
  • What applications and tools handle and manage personal information? Will these tools need to connect with a privacy governance tool?
  • What internal business units and external third parties receive personal information?
  • Which data privacy regulations does my organization need to be compliant with?
  • Are my current data privacy processes and policies compliant with the data protection regulations that apply to my organization?

What are the Key Features to Consider in a Privacy Governance Tool?

As you start comparing and demoing privacy governance tools, focus on features that can support the privacy and regulatory needs of your organization and are flexible enough to scale with organizational, technological, and regulatory change.

Privacy governance tools are still relatively new, and the regulatory landscape is frequently shifting, which means the maturity of certain features will vary by software vendor. Some offer pretty robust cookie management tools, while others are still building out those capabilities. A few strategic features to consider when evaluating privacy governance solutions include:

  • Data Mapping/Inventory: This feature provides a data mapping and inventory solution that addresses compliance with record keeping requirements. This tool can deliver questionnaires, processes registries, and records assets, so organizations can visualize the data lifecycle, identify gaps, track recommendations, and remediate potential risks.
  • Data Subject Access Request (DSAR) Management: DSARs are a common requirement among privacy regulations, such as the GDPR and the CCPA. Failure to comply with these requirements can lead to financial, legal, and reputational consequences. Since finding an individual’s personal information manually across systems is a significant challenge, certain privacy governance tools can provide solutions with deployment options to produce DSAR reports and provide individuals with the ability to access, correct, and delete their data across the entire organization.
  • Vendor Risk Management: This type of feature evaluates and manages data risk to protect against potential breaches and noncompliance. This software assesses, monitors, and mitigates risks between the company and its third parties.
  • Consent Compliance: This feature integrates with existing technologies and workflows within an organization to maintain a consent audit trail in order to demonstrate compliance with global privacy regulations. Some privacy governance tools also offer distinct consent tools designed for marketing teams.
  • Cookie Consent Management: Since organizations’ cookie consent policies must adhere to the requirements set out by the GDPR, the CCPA, and other privacy laws, this feature can automatically detect cookies and other tracking technologies related to your website and tailor banners and preference options for visitors.
  • Behavioral Advertising Compliance: This type of feature helps organizations manage cookie compliance when it comes to online advertising, a challenge for many organizations. This tool notifies individuals on when and how their information is being used for online advertising and their rights regarding the use of this data.
  • Assessment Automation: This software creates, distributes, and analyzes privacy impact assessments (PIAs) and data protection impact assessments (DPIAs) to guide the use of personal information across the organization.
  • Privacy Awareness: Some privacy governance solutions provide tools that help employees expand their privacy awareness through training, educational resources, and test exercises.
  • Data Transfer Risk Mapping: Certain solutions help organizations understand the risk associated with transferring data outside the organization and across the globe and how to address these risks while maintaining compliance.

Regardless what features your organization ends up prioritizing, the privacy governance tool you choose should encourage collaboration, streamline processes, provide visual reporting, and evolve your privacy program.

What are the Benefits of a Privacy Governance Tool?

Implementing a robust privacy governance tool alongside a mature data governance framework can provide many benefits to your organization, including:

  • Empowered Decision Making: Privacy governance tools offer enhanced reporting features, like data visualization, making it easier for you to communicate privacy risks and the effectiveness of your privacy program to your board and other business leaders. Improved reporting allows your executive leadership to make more informed decisions for the business.
  • Improved Compliance: Privacy governance solutions provide a platform for ensuring regulatory requirements are met, compliance monitoring, and even automating compliance completely. The features included in the solutions provide effective, streamlined ways to manage compliance across a host of regulations and to seamlessly evolve your privacy program with regulatory change.
  • Data Mapping: It is impossible to protect personal information if you can’t effectively monitor where that data is or who has access to it, especially when it comes to complying with regulations like the GDPR and the CCPA. Privacy governance tools can provide faster data harvesting across systems and have the ability to find information about data objects, their physical location, characteristics, and usage.
  • Operational Efficiency: Streamlining privacy compliance across regulations, systems, geographies, departments, and third parties can be an insurmountable task when done manually. Privacy solutions provide the centralized management of processes, policies, procedures, third party vendors, and assets across business applications, borders, and business units, significantly improving operational efficiency.
  • Increased ROI: By preventing costly fines for non-compliance, reducing the risk of reputational damage, and improving operational efficiency, your organization can spend less resources managing risk and reallocate these new funds into other areas of your privacy program or business.

Whether it’s about customers, suppliers, patients, or employees, organizations today are processing significant amounts of personal information each day. Utilizing a privacy governance tool can help your business effectively manage and protect this data while simultaneously complying with multiple compliance regulations and standards.

If you would like additional information about building a privacy governance program or selecting a privacy governance tool, our team of experts are ready to help. 

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