Understanding Data Discovery and its Role in GDPR Compliance

Antonia Pervanidis

28 August 2023

Data Discovery is the process of identifying, investigating, and understanding data within a company to gain insights and increase business value.

Navigating Data Privacy:  
A Guide for Legal Counsels and DPOs 

Understanding Data Discovery and its Role in GDPR Compliance 

In an age where data is king, understanding and managing it is crucial for businesses, especially when it comes to complying with data protection regulations like the GDPR. Data Discovery is a critical process that helps businesses identify, investigate, and comprehend data, ultimately increasing its value and ensuring compliance. This article will demystify Data Discovery, explain its importance for GDPR compliance, and provide actionable insights for Legal Counsels, Data Protection Officers (DPOs), and anyone interested in the field of Data Privacy. 

Decoding Data Discovery 
Data Discovery is about consolidating information from various sources onto a single platform, forming the foundation for visual analysis carried out using tables, charts, and other representations. This visual presentation of data allows users to quickly identify trends, patterns, and discrepancies, enabling informed decision-making through interactive and accessible data interfaces. 

Essentially, Data Discovery helps companies traverse data visually, apply advanced analyses to identify patterns, gain insights, and address targeted business questions. The primary goal is to extract value from corporate data and communicate these insights comprehensibly to non-technical stakeholders. 

The Three Pillars of Data Discovery 

  • Data Preparation: This initial step involves aggregating, cleaning, and transforming raw, unstructured data from various sources to ensure consistent quality and usable formatting. 
  • Data Visualization: Essential tools like heat maps, charts, graphs, and scatter plots are used to identify data patterns and nuances. This helps gain insights that might get lost in large datasets and provides a platform to showcase the results of machine learning and predictive analytics. 
  • Guided Advanced Analytics: This phase applies advanced analytics through a user interface that requires little to no expert IT knowledge. Users are guided through the model creation process, including machine learning models, transforming raw data into insightful information, leading to informed decisions and potentially reduced customer churn. 

The Importance of Data Discovery 
Many companies struggle with data silos, where valuable information gets lost in endless Excel spreadsheets and unsynchronized systems. This hinders essential data protection practices and limits opportunities for innovation and growth. 

Data Discovery consolidates all information, forming a coherent picture of a company's entire data landscape. This enables rapid response to trends, optimization of business processes, and yields deep insights for informed decisions. 

Dashboards: A Key Tool in Data Discovery 

Dashboards provide an overview of relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) for specific goals or business processes. They serve managers in making informed decisions, verifying strategies and goals, and saving time compared to tabular reports. Dashboards can be strategic, analytical, or advanced analytical, each serving a different purpose and audience. 

GDPR and Data Discovery 

With the introduction of the GDPR in the EU, companies have clear legal obligations regarding data storage and processing. Data Discovery enhances risk management by identifying anomalies and potential threats in data repositories, enabling proactive responses to data privacy risks and violations. 

Moreover, Data Discovery enables precise data mapping based on origin, context, and other relevant parameters, ensuring that data processing and storage align with legal requirements. This is essential for complying with GDPR data protection policies while fulfilling business data needs. 

Additionally, Data Discovery ensures secure and flexible handling of real-time data without compromising compliance through predefined controls or context-based factors. 

Diverse Forms of Data Discovery 
Data Discovery can be done manually, semi-automatically, or using intelligent data discovery powered by artificial intelligence (AI). While manual and semi-automated approaches were useful in the past, AI-powered technologies offer efficient, accurate, and comprehensive data processing, providing long-term benefits like increased accuracy and continuous monitoring for data privacy, compliance, and security. 

Key Takeaways for Legal Counsels and DPOs 

  • Define Business Goals: Align stakeholders with strategic metrics that align with the organization's objectives. 
  • Identify Problem Areas: Recognize pain points and bottlenecks that hinder operational efficiency and growth. 
  • Integrate Various Data Sources: Collect data from various sources for comprehensive insight and improved decision-making. 
  • Data Cleansing: Ensure data records are clean and accurate for reliable and meaningful insights. 
  • Choose the Right Tools: Tailor chosen tools to the organization's needs. Cloud-based solutions can simplify data navigation and visualization. 
  • Automate: Automate as many processes as possible for faster, consistent real-time insights and long-term analyses. 
  • Enable Accessibility: Promote access to data in all departments with user-friendly tools and create a data-driven culture. 

Ensuring data security is paramount, especially with increasing threats. Data Discovery, empowered by AI, can effectively identify anomalies and ensure GDPR compliance. Through automated monitoring, companies can identify potential vulnerabilities early and address them proactively. 

In conclusion, Data Discovery is a lighthouse guiding companies through the complex waters of data, leading to islands of insight. A harmonious connection between Data Discovery and compliance is crucial for harnessing the full potential of data while protecting stakeholders' interests. It is essential for optimizing business processes, decision-making, and complying with legal requirements. In today's data-driven world, a robust Data Discovery strategy is the key to success, ensuring the potential of data is harnessed while safeguarding stakeholders' interests and rights. 

Did you know? Kertos utilizes its advanced intelligence to automatically pinpoint and uncover the tools and data embedded in your organization. Discover more about this feature.

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