TechBytes with Patrick D. Mahoney, President and CEO, IEEE GlobalSpec

Patrick D. Mahoney

Patrick D. Mahoney
President and CEO, IEEE GlobalSpec

Since its first notification, GDPR has proved to be the biggest disruption to business in the European Union. Today, Chief Data Officers and Privacy Officers have become the ubiquitous positions for all companies to ensure they are on the right side of GDPR compliance. To better understand the role of CEOs and CMOs in a GDPR ecosystem, we spoke to Patrick D. Mahoney, President and CEO, IEEE GlobalSpec.


Tell us about your role at IEEE GlobalSpec and the team/technology you handle.

I am the President and Chief Executive Offer of IEEE GlobalSpec. We are an industrial B2B digital publisher that creates community, learning, and business opportunities for engineers and their manufacturing suppliers. Technology touches everything we do.

What are the major challenges to GDPR compliance? How do you prepare for it?

Companies must have a detailed understanding of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and how it impacts their business activities. If they have existing customer contacts in the European Union, they must re-engage with those contacts to ensure that they can maintain communication going forward and, in parallel, establish a plan for facilitating the ability of new contacts to opt-in. Issues to review range from gaining explicit consent regarding contact preferences, to implementing “opt-in” versus “opt-out” forms, and making necessary revisions to privacy policies.

Here at IEEE GlobalSpec, we’ve been working on GDPR compliance for over a year.

How can B2B technology companies in non-EU states exempt themselves from GDPR?

The only way to claim exemption from GDPR is for a company to limit its business activities to serve only those regions and customers not covered by the regulation.

Would Chief Data Officers and Privacy Officers become ubiquitous positions for all companies?  

As businesses become more focused on securing the data and privacy of their customers, Chief Data Officers and Privacy Officers may become standard positions within some organizations. Smaller organizations, however, may not have the bandwidth to have dedicated officers for data and privacy. There are ways to overcome this challenge.

A data or privacy officer can be someone who already plays a role within your organization, e.g., a company’s general counsel may be a logical choice. It also makes sense to assign data and privacy oversight not just to an individual, but to a team of people.

Here at IEEE GlobalSpec, we have assembled a cross-functional team of colleagues who work together to collectively ensure that we are keeping data and privacy top-of-mind, ensuring compliance.

What would be the role of CEOs and CMOs in a GDPR ecosystem? Would American companies be forced to comply with the regulation as well, and to what extent? 

C-suite executives must set the tone for GDPR compliance within their organizations, making clear to all employees that taking the steps necessary to adhere to the regulation is everyone’s responsibility. Leaders should be the voice of GDPR to both prospects and customers, reassuring them that the business takes the regulation seriously. Such outreach also creates an opportunity for leaders to build deeper relationships with their customers.

American companies doing business with individuals covered by GDPR must comply with the regulation.

What other regulations globally are in place to defend customer identity and their data?

One example is Canada’s CASL legislation, which went into effect in 2014. The legislation’s anti-spam provisions changed the way Canadian businesses communicated with individuals and other Canadian-based companies.

Would Opt-in Opt-out marketing campaigns require a new regulation to comply with GDPR? How would it impact outbound marketing goals?

GDPR impacts any business that markets to contacts in EU countries. Outbound marketing goals must be re-evaluated as a result. One positive outcome is that contacts who do opt-in can be considered to be of high quality because they want to engage.

I encourage businesses seeking to overcome outbound marketing challenges to explore a balanced media mix to attract and engage their EU audience and to ensure that any media partner they are working with has GDPR compliance protocols in place.

Thanks for chatting with us, Patrick.
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