Small businesses face significant regulatory pressure. Take the recently enacted General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which creates significant hurdles for managers doing business in the European Union around the management of customer's information. Before the enactment earlier this year, the UK's data protection watchdog - the Information Commissioner's Office - received more than 2,500 calls every week from small businesses seeking last-minute advice on GDPR.
Other legislations cause similar challenges. SMBs must pay attention to employment rules, such as the National Living Wage, and the publication of any potential gap in payment between men and women. Additional legal areas for attention include the corporate governance of private companies, and consumer rights changes, such as the abolition of surcharges for customers paying by credit or debit card. Yet help is at hand when it comes to dealing with rules and regulations. By making a shift to the cloud, your business can develop a much tighter awareness of the information it holds and the location of that data.
Placing GDPR into context
Let's return, first, to GDPR. The regulation puts the control of data back into the hands of individuals. This change creates onerous obligations for firms that store and process data. There are large fines waiting for firms that fail to comply with GDPR and that fail to protect the data rights of the consumers they serve.
More than three-quarters (78 percent) of organisations suggest becoming compliant with GDPR is a heavy burden on their resources, according to research by ICSA, the professional body for governance. The research suggests implementation has been painful for SMBs due to their limited resources. Just 50 percent of organisations were fully compliant with GDPR when the regulation came into force on 25 May.
It is worth noting that the enactment of the legislation is just the starting point. GDPR obligations will remain and continue to evolve, as will regulatory requirements across other areas of business, such as employment and accounting. SMBs must create a mechanism to make governance less onerous - and the cloud can play a key role.
Using the cloud to help manage regulatory requirements
Every organisation must treat data with care and attention. As a matter of urgency, your organisation should map out how its data is stored and used. You should know why information is collected, how it is saved and how it might be exploited in the future. Without answers to these questions, it is difficult to comply and then protect customer information.
Many cloud-based applications and platforms include built-in security measures. The best services include features that help ensure only the right individuals can access your data, regardless of location. Researcher Forrester advises firms to look for a cloud partner that offers a range of key features, such as encryption, identity and access management (IAM), and workload security.
To help your small business with compliance and reporting, your cloud partner should also offer information and best practices. Their products should meet the highest security, privacy and compliance standards. Compliance should be their specialty, so your business can rest assured its move to the cloud does not create any additional risk.
Working with a partner to bring true flexibility
When done right, the combination of a proactive cloud partner and great on-demand security features mean your business can feel more confident about compliance. New rules and regulations will always come up, especially in fast-moving segments like digital technology and data management.
The flexibility of the cloud means you and your partner can work together to update processes and policies as new requirements emerge. This flexibility means your business can then use governance to ensure data is stored and used effectively. With the cloud and its in-built security measures in place, your business can track how data is accessed and exploited.
That surety makes it much easier to create new products and services that make use of data. Rather than fearing making use of information due to compliance concerns, your organisation will know it can use data to innovate on behalf of the customer. In those circumstances, your business really can use the cloud to turn governance into a business advantage.
Conclusion - Small businesses can turn governance into a big benefit
Meeting governance requirements is a challenge but it does not have to as big a bind as some experts would have you believe. New rules and regulations, such as GDPR, can be a good reason to ensure your business has completed an effective data mapping exercise. By using some of the in-built security tools of the cloud, your small business can boost ensure data integrity and create a platform for the creation of innovative, data-led services.
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