GDPR is coming and is set to have a huge impact on UK businesses. From high-tech to agriculture, every modern business has huge volumes of data that will have to be stored, secured and managed in a way that is compliant with the new regulation.
That’s all very well and good if you are a huge company that can throw resource at dealing with the issue, but what about everyone else? With fines of up to €20 million or 4% of global annual turnover, it could spell the end for a small business if they are caught out by GDPR. So, with the data concerns of a bigger organisation, but without the same level of resource, how can SMEs tackle GDPR compliance efficiently and cost effectively?
The majority of businesses in the UK are SMEs and it is simply impractical for most to put in place a team to handle regulatory compliance. However, that is not to say that managing directors of small businesses need to take on the task of GDPR alone. The starting point must be to review their current infrastructure. Many businesses, particularly those without a heritage in digitalised systems, view IT as a purely tactical decision, often taking a short-sighted approach to addressing it. The result is the installation of systems that quickly become overly complex and make it difficult to ensure that data protection compliance in particular, is handled effectively; but how can businesses change this?
IT as a strategic decision
The answer is to start looking at IT as a strategic decision. The reality is that for most businesses, IT is a significant element of their organisation and yet they don’t think about the best way to approach it in the long term. For an SME, with minimal resources to dedicate to IT, this is where cloud technology comes into its own. As well as providing an organisation with an easy to manage infrastructure that is resilient and grows with their business, it can also be the most efficient way to prepare and protect themselves ahead of GDPR.
By moving to the cloud and working with a Managed Service Provider (MSP), smaller businesses can ensure that they are meeting all regulatory requirements when it comes to data protection, without sinking huge amounts of time or funding. Larger cloud platforms, like Microsoft Azure, provide businesses with access to affordable enterprise grade security, giving them a way to protect their data better than ever before. Additionally, working with an experienced MSP gives a business access to the expertise needed to arrange and organise its infrastructure and storage in a way that meets and keeps them in line with increasingly strict industry compliance requirements.
Platforms such as Microsoft Azure are investing time and vast amounts of resource to ensure that they make it as easy as possible for those with infrastructure built on their platform, in order to meet the rules around GDPR. Offering dedicated support, guidance and expertise, it gives SMEs peace of mind that they are compliant and that both their own and customers data are protected.
The consequences of failing to comply would be felt that much harder by an SME, with more slender profit margins than an enterprise, and they may go under if they face GDPR penalties. This is even more worrying when we consider that less than one in ten SME owners in the UK fully understand what GDPR actually means for their business or have taken the appropriate steps to prepare themselves for it, according to the latest research from Aldermore, it is vital that SMEs see that the cloud can offer a cost effective, fast track to compliance.
Paul Blore is managing director of Netmetix.