Can digital transformation, IT security and GDPR compliance all be prioritised?

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Digital transformation is the holy grail for many businesses, particularly in the face of an increasingly digital-first consumer world that has shifted to contactless and online transactions. UK businesses attribute a 34 per cent growth in revenues to their digital transformation efforts.

It’s not only about transforming business processes to become more efficient, but also about adapting to evolving customer demands. There’s a misconception that digital transformation is about splashing the cash on technology that has a lot of bells and whistles, or that it’s only for large enterprises. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

For small businesses that don’t have a sizeable in-house IT team, digital transformation can feel out of reach. But whilst it’s imperative to have IT representatives at the highest level in your business in order to drive true digital transformation, reducing the burden of an in-house IT team could actually allow your business to focus on innovation and growth.

It’s clear that more businesses than ever are starting to see the value in outsourcing IT support, with a significant spending increase on outsourced IT support (Computer Economics). Unsurprisingly, the fastest-growing area for outsourcing is IT security; 47 per cent of respondents plan to spend more on outsourced IT security services.

If your IT team is thin on the ground, it’s especially important to ensure you have dedicated resource to tackle cyber criminals and protect your business-critical data; that’s where managed IT services come in.

Highly-skilled cybersecurity experts are hard to come by – a record 51 per cent of organisations say they’re experiencing a “problematic shortage” of cybersecurity specialists (ESG). However, managed IT service providers are guaranteed to hire more of these specialists. Instead of struggling to hire an in-house cybersecurity whizz, particularly if you’re a small-to-medium-sized business, why not tap into the resources of your IT support provider? It’ll undoubtedly have a wide skillset simply because it’s their job to have one in order to serve its customers.

An increasing number of businesses are also shipping out the responsibility of GDPR compliance to third-party IT companies. It makes sense, as both go hand-in-hand; cybersecurity is critical to ensuring compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation, with fines expected to be dished out for a lack of security implementation in the event of a data breach.

Outsourcing GDPR compliance doesn’t completely absolve your business of responsibility; you’ll still need to address your internal business policies and processes. But your managed IT services provider can help you understand the best security measures not only for your data, but to protect your business against all kinds of malware and hacker activity.

Smaller businesses will breathe a sigh of relief, as the GDPR-mandated role of Data Protection Officer (DPO) can be outsourced. For a long time, there was confusion around whether small businesses – defined as those with fewer than 250 employees or 5000 records – required a DPO, but the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) cleared this up by stating there was no exemption for SMEs. However, rather than requiring an increase in headcount, small businesses could appoint the DPO responsibilities to an existing employee or, more realistically, outsource the role of DPO and even ‘share’ a DPO with other small organisations. 

A key concern

The ability to outsource this role completely not only aids businesses in achieving GDPR compliance, it also frees up valuable budget. You shouldn’t, of course, outsource your IT support services solely for cost-saving purposes, but if done correctly, outsourcing can allow your business to grow through freeing up resource to focus on transformation. M&S has recently outsourced a large portion of its IT support as part of its 5-year Technology Transformation Programme; however, the business retained a smaller in-house team, demonstrating that outsourcing doesn’t mean getting rid of your entire IT department.

With every third-party project, you need to weigh up the risks against the benefits. Outsourcing certain IT projects – for example, the implementation and support of your CRM solution – means there’s an additional party with access to sensitive data, which could potentially increase your business’ attack surface. To mitigate this, it’s important to choose an IT services provider that is fully committed not only to its own GDPR compliance, but to the compliance of its customers too. A high-quality IT support company will have in place the most sophisticated technologies to protect its data and yours – technologies that you could take advantage of as a customer.

A key concern many businesses have is the time it can take for a remote IT support team to deal with critical support tickets. It’s understandable, as depending on the level of staff you retain, your IT helpdesk could very well be situated in an office hundreds of miles away. However, IT support services are ever-evolving, with many businesses offering remote services with unlimited telephone support. Some are so sophisticated that they’ll designate a support agent to be on-site with you every day. This again depends on the business that you’re dealing with; if they’re hard to reach, you might not want to entrust them with your business-critical systems that need immediate attention.

IT has shifted from the break-fix department to the key driver in innovation for many businesses. The break-fix element is still critical, but for many it’s expensive, time-consuming and only exists out of necessity rather than innovation. Outsourcing IT services, and in particular IT support and IT security can take this off your business’ plate and allow you to focus on the ambitious transformational targets that will set your business apart from the competition.

If your business is looking to focus on digital transformation but is short on resource, outsourcing your IT support will allow you to fully focus on transformation, as well as save some budget. There are some careful considerations to make, however; your decision to outsource some or all of your IT shouldn’t be based on saving money alone. You need to ensure you choose a robust and established IT support provider that follows best practice rules. The benefits, such as cost-savings and a wider talent pool should be weighed against the potential downfalls, like an additional third-party business accessing your data or unworkable response times. With more businesses than ever outsourcing IT support, it’s time this became a real consideration.

Natasha Bougourd, Lead Applications Writer, TSG
Image Credit: Chombosan / Shutterstock