With the compliance deadline for GDPR fast approaching and it expected to have a significant impact on the majority of UK businesses, from the data and tech-savvy to the complete novice, businesses are worried.
Organisations have large volumes of data that need to be stored, as well as secured and managed in a compliant fashion before the new regulations come into effect on the 25th May 2018. If you're an enterprise that can afford to invest resources into addressing the issue that's all well and good, but what about everyone else? It could spell the end for a small business if they do not become compliant, with fines set to be as much as €20 million or four per cent of global annual turnover - whichever is greater. So, with the same concerns as a larger organisation, but lacking a similar level of resource, how can SMEs efficiently and cost-effectively tackle GDPR compliance?
SMEs make up the majority of UK businesses, and it appears to be simply unrealistic for many to put in place an entire team just to handle regulatory compliance.
The starting point has to be to review current infrastructure. Many businesses, especially those without a background in digitalised systems, view IT as a tactical decision rather than a strategic enabler, and often take the short-sighted approach when addressing it. This normally results in the installation of solutions that quickly become over-complex, and makes it difficult to ensure that regulatory compliance is handled efficiently; but how do businesses go about changing this?
The reality is that for many organisations, IT is an important part of their business and yet they don't think about the right way to approach it in the long term. For an SME, with minimal resources to devote solely to IT, this is where cloud technology comes into its own. Along with supplying an organisation with a manageable infrastructure, that is resilient and scalable with their business, it can also be the most efficient way to prepare and protect businesses ahead of GDPR.
By migrating to the cloud and working with a managed service provider (MSP), smaller businesses can ensure that they are meeting all the regulatory requirements as far as data protection is concerned, without having to sink huge amounts of funding or time into it. Larger cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure provide businesses with access to affordable enterprise-grade security as well, giving them a better way to protect their data than ever before. Additionally, working with an experienced MSP enables businesses to access the knowledge required to position and organise its infrastructure and storage in a way that meets and keeps them in line with increasingly strict industry compliance requirements.
The result of failing to comply with GDPR will be felt that much harder by an SME. With leaner profit margins than a large enterprise would have, it's more than possible that they may go under if they face penalties. This becomes even more worrying when we consider that fewer than one in ten small UK business owners fully understand what the GDPR even means for their business, or have taken the right steps to prepare themselves for it. Now is the time for SMEs to realise that the cloud can help to provide them with a cost-effective fast track to GDPR compliance.
Paul Blore is the managing director at Netmetix
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