Manage Data Protection OP-ED Armin Hopp Speexx EDUKWEST Europe

Managing Data Protection in the Global Learning Landscape

Speexx was founded in Germany, a country with one the of the strictest data regulation policies. We’re now based all over the world and the one of the greatest challenges we see is that HR teams from regions with lower data protection standards don’t yet understand the regulations from countries with more rigid laws. This is a major issue when it comes to big data.

The right to be forgotten

European citizens have the right to be forgotten – something that wouldn’t be understood by many companies based in the US, for example. So the interpretation of data privacy and the period of time over which that data may be stored is different. In most Western and European countries, we’re only allowed to store user data for six months and then we have to delete it. In other parts of the world, we’re encouraged to keep them for as long as possible.  This underlines the difference between technology itself and the way we interpret and use it. What HR really needs to do is to find a common denominator for the usage of technology, as well as for monitoring and reporting user results or any other kind of big data.

Data privacy is about data protection and about workforce law, which varies strongly depending on where you go in the world. As a result, when implementing large-scale global IT systems within HR structures, you need to be very aware of the fact that there are different regulations out there which may hamper the system you wish to install. In addition, you will need to find the common denominator to manage the entire set of regulations within that system. For example, we have clients that don’t use cloud-based systems in some parts of the world, simply because they cannot cope with the regulations in those areas.

The way out of the maze

I strongly believe that cloud-based delivery / SaaS is a strong solution for both HR and users across large organizations. From an HR perspective, it allows us to disseminate a common standard in training throughout the entire organization, to monitor and gauge results from that delivery. On the other hand, it allows students to learn anytime, anywhere. They can use their mobile device, learn in the workplace, learn at home – so it’s learning anytime and anywhere. At the same time, results are available to HR throughout the entire organization. However, At Speexx, we’ve found lots of ways to work with these regulations and make them worthwhile for our customers. Speexx helps large organizations to deal with these issues on a daily basis. We’re often asked to integrate our systems into third party IT environments, learning management systems and talent management systems and we’re asked to be very transparent about the way we store and use data for our coaching systems. We’re very aware of the open issues in data protection regulations and we help corporations do that. From my point of view, the most important thing for HR and L&D to consider is the fact that all learner data is private – you have to protect it, and there’s no way out of it. Depending on where you are, the regulations might vary but in the end, you have to be aware of the common demoninator of data regulations when running a worldwide, cloud-based system.

If you work in HR or L&D and are not sure how to deal with cross-border data regulation issues, here are some tips to get started:

  1. Appoint a dedicated data protection controller, which is required by law in some parts of the world.
  2. Involve all stakeholders, not only HR, but also legal and IT – anyone who might contribute to the question “What happens to data?” when studying a language online, for example.
  3. Work closely with your provider. This is a maturing market and providers are finding suitable solutions for their clients every day. In the long run, this will help them to navigate data protections on a global basis.

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Armin Hopp

Founder and President at Speexx
Armin Hopp is the Founder and President of Speexx. Speexx helps organisations everywhere to drive productivity by empowering employee communication skills across borders.

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