Businesses are moving toward personalization, which means they’ll increasingly collect personal data to get a better idea of what their customers want and need. In the age of the customer, defined by Forrester as a 20-year business cycle when successful enterprises will reinvent themselves as digital businesses in order to serve their increasingly powerful customers, protecting customer data is a critical aspect of fostering trust and building long-lasting relationships.

Regardless of location, all countries should have this goal in mind, but privacy regulations vary from country to country and often conflict with each other. For global organizations, navigating these laws can be daunting. To help businesses tackle this challenge, Forrester published its 2015 Data Privacy Heat Map. Originally created in 2010, the tool leverages in-depth analyses of the data privacy-related laws and cultures of 54 countries around the world, helping security leaders and decision-makers better design their own approaches to privacy and data protection.

Every year since its inception, the data privacy heat map has highlighted a slow global convergence towards Europe’s approach to data privacy regulation. This convergence continues in 2015, with a number of non-European countries such as Chile, South Africa, and Thailand making strides — both large and small — toward their own comprehensive data privacy regimes. Further, these countries are making provisions similar to those laid out by the Data Protection Directive 95. In some cases, countries have even adopted provisions that are expected to be implemented in future European regulations, such as the case with South Africa and its “right to be forgotten” and mandatory breach notification laws.

In a world where privacy has become a competitive differentiator for multi-national organizations, businesses must increasingly work with their general counsels and chief privacy officers to understand global data privacy requirements, implementing controls that protect personal data accordingly. Forrester sees its Data Privacy Heat Map as a valuable source of information for all business technology decision-makers, and we are committed to updating the map on an annual basis. Forrester also provides strategic consulting services to help organizations navigate data security and privacy issues at every step of the information lifecycle.

To hear more about the Data Privacy Heat Map tool, read our privacy-related research, find out more about our privacy consulting services, or discuss privacy issues in general, click here or reach out to our Data Privacy Heat Map authors on Twitter: @ChrisShermanFR@eiannopollo@heidishey, @merrittmaxim, @JennieHDuong, and @kelleymak10.