The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force in May 2018 and in the subsequent 2 years, UK companies have not only had to ensure they are compliant with GDPR, but also prepare for Brexit and more recently adapt their businesses to working under Covid-19 restrictions.
It’s fair to say that many organisations of all sizes were not ready to manage their obligations under GDPR by the May 24th 2018 deadline and whilst most companies reviewed their data processing policies and business processes, there was still a huge challenge in terms of identifying where personally identifiable information (PII) resided in their systems. Which limited the effectiveness of the compliance measures they were trying to establish. Further-more a majority of companies still struggle to track and protect PII on an on-going basis.
One major barrier to gaining visibility to sensitive data is that there are a myriad of IT and business systems with their own individual data stores. Also, many users transfer data to their local machines from secure corporate data stores, often with the best intentions of working efficiently offline or from remote locations such as their homes.
Another major challenge is that the Data Owners and Data Protection Officer (DPO) are typically business executives rather than IT and whilst they are the people who need to ask questions of what Data is being held and where, for example in response to a data Subject Access Request (DSAR), they are wholly reliant on IT staff to provide the results. This is costly and time-consuming for both the business stakeholders and the IT department. It also significantly hampers business agility, which has been crucial for companies in the current Covid-19 crisis where businesses had to develop new business practices to continue trading.
Understanding with confidence where the companies’ sensitive data is stored and who can access it, is the foundation and starting point for an effective Data Protection capability. When adopting a maturity model as below, you cannot progress beyond level 1 without completing the initial discovery and then implementing an ongoing tracking and search capability.
Once a company knows where their data resides and can ensure it is appropriately controlled and protected, they will gain significant business benefits beyond just GDPR compliance.
- It greatly reduces costs associated with managing data protection and management.
- It saves time and limits the resource required to gain visibility and control over data.
- It increases business agility through both the time-savings and the reduction of risk in implementing new business models and services.
- Improves customer service and brand reputation through rapid responsiveness to DSARs and demonstrable care and respect for customer’s data and privacy.