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As software and IT asset managers gather increasing amounts of data about employee use of company systems, concerns arise over employee privacy. How can the need to monitor access to software and systems be balanced with local legislation designed to protect employees' privacy rights in the work place?
This is the concern attendees at the 2014 SAM Summit London will discuss in a keynote session with European privacy and digital analytics specialist Aurélie Pols, co-founder and chief visionary officer at Mind Your Privacy.
"Before you measure, you need to know what and why you’re measuring." —
"As more employers let workers bring their own devices to the office or access company data in the cloud from home, software asset managers are faced with a new task," says Pols. "They have to ensure that the measurements and controls put in place to secure data and license compliance, are not violating employee privacy."
An employee's right to privacy is defined in local law, posing a challenge for companies that operate throughout Europe. Spain has one of the strictest data protection laws in Europe, notes Pols, who is based in Madrid. "When it comes to fines issued by data protection authorities in Europe, Spain accounts for 80 percent of them," she says. This has turned Spain into a country where corporate lawyers, and IT managers, make sure they have the right processes in place to avoid the legal risks surrounding improper data collection and use.
The Spanish model has become the ideal to apply to client environments throughout Europe, notes Pols. " We try to find the best and most homogenous set of data governance practices that will work worldwide to ensure minimal risk—and maximum compliance."
Best practices of data use
The first data governance challenge for software and IT asset management professionals is to define what kind of data they are collecting from their workforce and how it will be used.
"Of course the software asset manager wants to track employee usage to ensure that data is not leaked or improperly accessed, but a subset of this activity is that suddenly you have data about what employees are doing," notes Pols. "This can run afoul of privacy laws unless there's close collaboration with the HR department."
Companies are now faced with the question: Do we want to use this data on employee activity, and if so, for what purpose? Do we want to use it within certain teams to assess whether certain employees are productive? Do we want to use this to assure that they are using the right processes?
"Before you measure, you need to know what and why you’re measuring," says Pols. "Although the software asset manager isn’t going to be looking at this employee data, they do need to ensure that any data collected is done in accordance with local laws."
For more on this cutting-edge issue in software asset management, join us at the 2014 SAM Summit in London, Oct. 21-22. Visit SAMSummitLondon.com.
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