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Is your data ready for any type of Brexit?

(Image credit: Image Credit: RikoBest / Shutterstock)

As the UK still awaits the decision over Brexit, businesses and individuals are getting increasingly frustrated at the lack of information and guidance as to how things will change after 31st October 2019.

With the recent vote now meaning that no deal is looking more unlikely, some businesses have breathed a sigh of relief, however, until a deal is confirmed I would suggest companies continue to do their due diligence and prepare for any outcome.

What is yet to become clear is the effect Brexit will have on business practices including:

  • changes in current regulation
  • compliance with multiple regulations operating in tandem
  • currency changes / restrictions
  • supply chains
  • payments
  • infrastructure
  • data transfer restrictions

Once a deal has been thrashed out and the details have been scrutinised, businesses will be able to more effectively plan and get ready for the new landscape. Naturally, supply chain, resources and legislation may be the areas companies initially focus on but one key business asset that can be overlooked is data.

Don’t forget data

To all businesses, data is incredibly important and it can be affected depending on what deal is agreed, as we currently have EU data regulations such as GDPR, but also many companies which have their data stored directly or indirectly through Cloud providers within EU countries or interwoven within their data management and supply chain.

I would urge all companies to investigate their data including its sovereignty to make sure it’s agile and robust enough to weather any outcome of Brexit. Not being ready for the change can leave data vulnerable and in turn impact on day-to-day operations.

Whilst the majority of organisations completed data audits in the recent past to be ready for GDPR, this exercise tended to focus on personal data and what needs to happen now is for data as a whole to be looked at to make sure there are no risks or vulnerabilities after 31st October 2019, or whenever the deal is finally agreed.

Also, solely looking at data for the purposes of compliance and security is a wasted opportunity if you’re not looking at how your data can work better for your organisation. Many teams find that once they conduct an audit and investigate technology to improve data management, they can benefit from cost and time savings, greater efficiencies and the ability to make monetising data a core part of their overall business strategy.

In addition to these benefits, having a clear understanding of your data safeguards you from any issues that may arise following a change in regulations or business practice during these uncertain times. Essentially, good data management enables business agility which ensures the company can respond quickly, confidently and securely to any scenario that may occur.

To help achieve the aforementioned benefits, we typically work with our clients to develop a four-step solution approach as follows.

Step one: Assessment:

The prospect of a company-wide data audit may seem daunting, but the benefits and outcomes will be advantageous to all, especially if you’re building off the foundations of the work which you undertook for GDPR.

The key points I would advise you to have in mind throughout the process are:

  • Knowing what data, you have – due to the size of the company or the speed in which its grown, there may be data that you’re not aware of that the teams are holding. It’s crucial that you know exactly what data is held so you are able to assess if it’s compliant and secure, but also if there are ways to make it more efficient. Encourage teams to think more about data and how they could be using it to get more out of it, introducing the idea of a data management culture.
  • Understanding where it is - for the purposes of Brexit, knowing where your data is very important. With today’s hybrid cloud and on-premise infrastructure, I am often faced with companies where this understanding is not fully developed. This can mean that your data costs are high, processes inefficient and security is compromised.

    Per the aforementioned, your company data may be held by an EU provider such as your cloud supplier, which means there could be implications on access and regulations after 31st October 2019. It’s best to check all your providers are in the Convention 108+ (opens in new tab) which should safeguard all data in the immediate aftermath of Brexit. If they are not, then find out if there will be any impact on this following the UK leaving the EU.
  • Appreciate why you have it – there are of course obvious reasons to store significant amounts of data across the whole enterprise. It’s vital to find out why all data is being held so you can tailor your approach to help your teams to get the best out of it.
  • Having confidence in its quality – there is no use in holding data unless its quality is sufficient to add something to the business or effectively support processes and operations. Ensuring it’s stored in a secure solution and designing the right data management policies and processes will help provide quality data throughout your enterprise.

Step two: Planning:

Now you know where the data is, the next step is to look at what you want the data to do for the company moving forward. Data is only good if it works for you, and in my interactions with prospects and clients, I see many examples of teams not maximising the full potential of the information available. Business should be driving the data, not the other way around. Identifying use cases and the potential for business-changing events will help drive an effective ROI which is key to ensuring overall success.

This is also the stage where you need to be assessing compliance for each aspect of data and that your approach meets these requirements. This includes GDPR, BCBS239, Dodd-Frank, CCAR, Basel III, MiFID II, KYC, FATCA and any other regulations related to risk reduction and finances which have data elements. Additionally, there will likely be more pure data regulations in future to cover ethical data use, AI etc and these will need to be adhered to.

Step three: Technology architecture:

Choose technology that not only makes you compliant but gives you more agility with the data. Your data management should:

  • Improve your records management process
  • Enhance your data privacy capability
  • Introduce a data governance framework to reduce risks associated with future changes in privacy law
  • Seamlessly integrate and support Cloud software and infrastructure including PaaS, SaaS and IaaS
  • Assist with issues such as supply chain management

Most importantly invest in technology that meets your exact requirements which may mean using different solutions for different business areas, rather than a one size fits all approach.

Step four: Delivery

Get the whole team on board for any new processes or technology, instil the importance of good data management and why it should form part of any successful company’s culture. Ensure all team members receive on-going support and direction to deal with any challenges which arise along the way and give them access to the training, tools and techniques necessary for them to perform to the best of their abilities.

Make sure that regular audits are conducted, that you’re getting frequent feedback from teams and have monitoring capabilities to ensure that your delivery approach is enabling them to realise the business benefits and ROI defined during the planning stage.

To conclude, as we head towards one of the biggest changes the UK has ever seen, we believe you can turn uncertainty to your advantage and use it as a catalyst and opportunity to bring long-term enterprise-wide benefits to you and your organisation.

Steve Whiting, COO, Agile Solutions (opens in new tab)
Image Credit: RikoBest / Shutterstock

Steve Whiting is COO of Agile Solutions GB LTD. Steve has over 15 years’ consulting experience working with leading UK firms on data management and analytics. As COO, Steve helps organisations understand how data should be utilised to drive their businesses forward and provide operational efficiencies or monetised outcomes. Steve is also an expert in the complex landscapes that many organisations have and is able to mobilise Agile’s resources and knowledge to provide industry-leading solutions for clients across all sectors.