By Jenina P. Ibañez, Reporter

THE ABILITY of companies to keep data secure could emerge as a competitive advantage during the migration to online business processes, now that businesses can devote more time to privacy issues after exiting from survival mode during the early days of the lockdown, according to Singapore technology company Straits Interactive Pte. Ltd.

“Business leaders or the top of the organization should have undergone a paradigm shift and look at data privacy and data protection as a business enabler and a competitive advantage moving forward, especially in the turbo-accelerated digital transformation that is happening now,” Straits Interactive Country Manager Edwin A. Concepcion said in an online interview last month.

Contact tracing measures imposed during the pandemic increased data privacy awareness among organizations, he said.

More companies are also looking into mitigating data privacy risk as they shift to digital, he said. Firms started accelerating their digital transition during the strictest part of the lockdown as more employees worked from home.

“(Data privacy) awareness has been heightened because consumers are demanding protection and data privacy,” he added.

Mr. Concepcion identified the healthcare and education sectors as top priorities for data protection.

“We have a lot of hospitals or healthcare institutions that still probably are just starting to implement their data protection management programs. We also need to train and change some behaviors or habits, especially on the employees on how to securely or more appropriately handle information relating to the health of individuals,” he said.

“(In healthcare and education), the personal info they are processing are more valuable and at the same time the sectors are more vulnerable. The individuals are more vulnerable to identity theft and risk.”

The National Privacy Commission last year flagged “dismal” privacy standards in the health sector, raising concerns about their management of contact tracing during the pandemic. The commission said that the sector’s poor compliance with data privacy standards is the main cause of breaches.