I’m excited to be attending Cisco Live US in Orlando this week. We have a strong lineup of speakers and sessions, and lots of cool extras like hands-on labs, meet-the-expert conversations and social events. Of course, I’m most excited about engaging with customers who are interested in data privacy. Along with talking to as many folks as I can, I’ll present recent insights from our privacy maturity study at my IT Management session on Tuesday afternoon. I’m also thrilled to be part of important discussions on bringing more diverse talent into IT, both with my session Courage. Code-Switch. Curate. and during Tuesday afternoon’s Cocktails and Conversations executive speed-mentoring event. This week is going to rock!

Data privacy is so relevant now. A confluence of eye-opening headlines, and a rapidly changing global regulatory environment, has brought privacy to the forefront of business conversations worldwide. I’m heartened to see this because the discussion is long past due.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enforcement, now in effect, marks the start of a new era. GDPR is the first regulation to save out for itself the same level of proactive investigation and enforcement as any other of the protective legislative frameworks such as antifraud, financial controls, or product safety. Like the EU, the rest of the world also wants to use digital services and be subject to decisions based on fair and ethical principles. We should have been conducting business this way from Day One of the digital age, but we didn’t, so here we are: GDPR now.

The entire issue of privacy truly comes down to data. When data flows outside the data center the rules for handling it may change. No single country or region owns the rules; each will interpret and observe privacy differently according to its values and cultural norms. While GDPR is the world’s strictest regulation to date, Europe is not alone in advancing the protection of its citizens’ data. Other international efforts such as APEC’s Cross Border Privacy Rules, the EU-US Privacy Shield, and legal data protection regulations and frameworks in 126 countries and across 47 US states prove that responsibly handling people’s data is serious stuff, and getting more so.

That’s a good thing. Privacy is good for business―and for innovation. Customers care that their data is protected even as they enjoy the benefits and conveniences of modern technology. They want to know what data about them is captured, how it is used, how long it is retained, and who has access to it. When privacy is done right, that knowledge will bring customer confidence and trust in the vendors who demonstrate respect for their data. Achieving this takes expertise, experience, commitment and engagement across organizations. Technical, legal, and business teams must collaborate to make this a reality.

Up to now, many organizations haven’t taken this approach. The value of good data, where you can transparently know that the ingredients are pure, and the output is reasonable, is a scarce commodity. So it’s up to customers to take control―demanding both legislative changes and speaking via their pocketbooks will force the issue.

At Cisco, we believe the digital economy can only flourish when we connect people, process, data and things in an ethical, relevant and secure way. This is how we create an environment where everyone can more easily do business and trust that their data is safeguarded.

I can’t wait to talk more about all this during Cisco Live. If you’re with us in Orlando this week, please say hello, whether virtually or in person. I’ll be looking for you!


Listen to the Privacy Sigma Riders podcast series for more insights on security, trust and privacy from Michelle Dennedy and some of the leading voices in the industry. And visit trust.cisco.com to access a treasure trove of tools and resources to help advance privacy and cybersecurity in your organization.




Michelle Dennedy

No Longer with Cisco