What GDPR Means For Businesses With An AI Strategy

What GDPR Means For Businesses With An AI Strategy

It’s been over a year since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect, yet I still get questions from customers, prospects, and fellow tech leaders on how to do business in European markets while maintaining compliance. 

The GDPR is a European Union regulation that outlines how companies can collect, process, and store personal data. And since data is the key ingredient in artificial intelligence (AI), these regulations bring a new layer of complexity to organizations that build AI-powered products or use AI internally to drive growth. 

Is It Helping Or Hindering AI Innovation?

On the one hand, it may feel like the GDPR and other privacy regulations hinder AI advances. For example, some companies I’ve spoken to have had to delete CRM data that wasn’t GDPR-compliant, which means their algorithms have a smaller data set from which to learn. Additionally, engineering teams at companies across industries likely dedicated time and resources to ensure their products are GDPR-compliant — resources that could have been focused on further AI innovation. 

But while these setbacks seem burdensome today, I believe the GDPR is good for AI and the technology industry in the long run. Before the GDPR, we were in the Wild West of privacy. These regulations establish a road map for how companies should handle personal data and protect customer privacy. It can also encourage companies to build privacy standards into their products from the start — known as “privacy by design.” Lastly, GDPR creates a framework in which companies can operate; businesses may now have a better understanding of how to partner with external organizations while keeping privacy top of mind.

Is your AI-powered organization prepared for GDPR compliance? While there may not be definitive answers yet when it comes to GDPR, there are ways to minimize your organization’s risk while still leveraging AI technologies. Here’s my take. (Note: I love talking about everything AI, but I’m not a lawyer. Consult your legal department to ensure all actions your organization takes are fully compliant with GDPR.)

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