Beyond GDPR: Addressing global data compliance challenges

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Written by Armin Hopp on 30 May 2018

While the introduction of the GDPR is making all the headlines this month, learning and development professionals face a data protection challenge that is broader and deeper than the GDPR alone.

Companies operating internationally must also look closely at the intersection between data protection regulations, employment law and workers’ rights and unions. The latter is a particular issue in Europe.

In Germany, for example, it may not be straightforward to track learner progress unless there is a specific agreement with the business’ Workers’ Council. It may be necessary to allow individual learners to elect to have their learning data stored anonymously or not at all.

It is important that concerns about data protection do not become an obstacle to getting the most from learner data.

There is no doubt that international data protection is a challenge. But it certainly should not become a barrier to effective digital learning.

Here are three starting points to make sure that you get data protection in digital learning right

  1. Tap into best practice. Look around at what other learning professionals in your sector are doing. Your learning solution supplier can also help you with this. Major global learning solution suppliers now have long experience of the issues. Experienced suppliers can share their knowledge with you and put you in touch with other learning professionals who have faced and addressed similar issues.
  2. Know where your data is all times. Many organisations have gone through, or should have gone through by now, the process of finding out where all the data is held in their organization ahead of the introduction of the GDPR. This is an excellent starting point, but it is important to continue this work, keeping abreast of where data is being held. It is likely that, as time passes, new repositories of learning and HR data will develop. Do you have a way of recording and tracking new data, particularly data created and stored on mobile and personal devices?
  3. Head to the cloud. Cloud technology is no longer new and many L&D professionals are maximising the benefits of standardised, easily accessible and pay-as-you-go cloud-based learning solutions. Cloud providers also take care of updates that are vital for compliance with data protection. While it is important to do your due diligence before selecting a cloud provider, such as establishing whether servers are located, for example, an ongoing relationship with a trusted cloud provider will go a long way to support your data protection compliance.

Banish data protection fears

The latest sophisticated learning systems make good use of learner data to ensure that employees progress in their learning – and that the learning and development department have a clear view of their return on investment in learning solutions.

It is important that concerns about data protection do not become an obstacle to getting the most from learner data. The regulations are there to protect data better, not to hinder business growth. 

A commonly asked question is, 'where are your servers located?' before evaluating learning content or technical integration. It is time to put these concerns to rest. Cloud-based digital learning technology is now well established and mature and experienced suppliers will be able to help you navigate every data protection challenge.

Speexx’s white paper, ‘Navigating General Data Protection Regulations in L&D’, offers HR and L&D professionals some guidelines for dealing effectively with the global data protection challenge.


About the author

Armin Hopp is the Founder and President of Speexx. Speexx helps large organisations everywhere to drive productivity by empowering employee communication skills across borders. For more information, visit


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