Will data privacy turn your missional efforts into something that others will say is a “can of worms” at best?

Fear is the foundation of safety.”  Tertullian
The fourth and fifth technology revolutions provide opportunities to move organizations into a world focused on the congregation and especially the congregation that is tech savvy.  AI, IoT, data veracity are technology solutions that empower your missional efforts to identify and immediately connect with people.
These same tools are also opportunities to respond to potential threats, vulnerabilities, and risks that you are facing with an ecosystem that is powering the globe. We live in a global environment.  We are not immune or isolated from the cause/effect that occurs with technology and especially where it concerns data privacy.  Just look at Europe and look at California.  Data privacy regulations are emerging, and our churches are not exempt totally, and I predict in the very near future here in the United States we will see rules that totally mirror that of Europe.
Being a leader at the forefront of technology and your church and mission means more than just putting a “firewall” or “installing malware protection” in your operation. It means fundamentally transforming existing technology strategy, processes and infrastructure towards delivering risk management via governance, compliance and personal value. As ministers, we should not wait till we are forced by some regulation to protect our congregation’s personal data we should do everything we possibly can to protect the personal data that is trusted to us daily.
The first step in successful transformation is to understand the ground rules of this new world of data privacy, which include being more sensitive to changing congregational requirements.
To fully understand what is evolving in the world because of data privacy concerns and the drivers of the fourth/fifth technology revolutions means all organizations must embrace a mindset of DATA GOVERNANCE.  Executing the wrong governance transformation strategy can be as disastrous as not transforming at all, and there are already dramatic examples of this coming out of many industries.  If you recall many companies experienced a “heartbreak” when they implemented Sarbanes-Oxley controls in the mid-2000’s.  Very few got it “right” the first time around.  Many companies spent an “arm and leg” on what was a mediocre implementation that a few companies are still trying to redo year after year.  Now here comes data privacy and this is not only for businesses but for all organizations which include not for profit and churches.
The fundamental mistake that most organizations make is to use the Web(internet), Software Point Solutions or old processes as a way of defending their existing infrastructure.   In light of the new concerns of privacy, transparency, data protection, congregational loyalty, and a world that is becoming very educated on the importance of data protection, churches must come to understand what is at stake:  The congregation!   The new world of Data Governance and privacy is reinventing the marketplace where we live and work.  We are seeing emerging product offerings in light of the modern world of Privacy & Governance.
The new world of technology solutions such as AI, IoT, quantum computing, biotechnology for identification, and robotics deliver for churches a new world of congregational intimacy and a new world of Governance and Compliance solutions to manage the threats and risk inherent in the latest technology.
If you think vendors are going to address the privacy concerns with enterprise solutions, take a look at the Sarbanes-Oxley compliance-related solutions they created which are at best a hodgepodge of standalone applications strung together and are fifty percent effective at best.
The opportunity today and for the next several years as privacy concerns become “the heart of the matter” is for organizations to “see common compliance and governance processes” across the various worlds we interact within, and build solutions and integration services (process, technology, organization) that will deliver:
(1)    Common governance and compliance process discipline throughout the organization structure,
(2)     Common compliance work-paper evidentiary repository, which includes logs and the management of logs with an understanding of how to discover the cause for all issues that will arise in the daily life of all organizations.
(3)    Roll up for management, judicatory review, church board review, and signoff and be able to produce a “regulatory review” and audit of all regulations governing the organization.
(4)    The KEY to the above three being successful is to design all of this within near real-time, interoperability environment.
Nearly all laws, regulations and rules enacted and those yet to come will require processes, procedures, and technology collaboration when addressing data privacy. All religious organizations will not be exempt as this begins to come into reality.  Data is data, and personal data is the same no matter who the holder of the data happens to be a church or business.  They must become interrelated within the organizational governance and compliance processes, which comprise what we call evolutionary-risk management.
Congregations, judicatories, dioceses, synods, and presbyteries are leveraging the advancements in digital technology to embed their churches, congregation, and infrastructure throughout the mission.  The lines between our congregations and personal data are blurring, and this is creating new pathways for us to explore.  Technology is helping us to weave ourselves seamlessly into the fabric of our congregations and their lives.   It is a new world!!
When we once begin to form good resolutions, God gives us every opportunity of carrying them out.”  John Chrysostom

 

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