Prepare for GDPR

by Mark Rowe

The deadline for complying with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a year away; yet the majority of businesses are struggling to implement good information governance because they fail to engage employees to help establish and enforce an organisation-wide policy for dealing with information. According to the latest study from Cohasset Associates and ARMA International, a ‘keep everything’ culture persists at 81 per cent of businesses, and 84pc of businesses believe that employee resistance to change is a challenge they still need to overcome.

A storage and information management services company, Iron Mountain, warns that business managers must start doing more to bring employees on board and overcome these challenges – or risk facing the hefty fines and reputational damage associated with falling foul of data protection legislation.

When it comes into force in May 2018, the new GDPR could result in swift and severe punishment for businesses that fail to comply with its regulations regarding the acquisition, use, transmission, storage, destruction and breach of personal data, with fines of up to 4pc of annual world turnover or 20 million euros, whichever is greater.

The study, Transforming Information Management, which has been underwritten in part by Iron Mountain, has highlighted the challenges faced by businesses as they undergo the transition from an operational-tactical approach focused mainly on records and information management to the adoption of a business-wide Information Governance (IG) strategy aimed at the benefit of the entire company and its customers. Despite the fact that business managers are putting policies in place to facilitate a transition towards IG, managers are guilty of not encouraging employees to engage with these policies. The study found that although most management personnel (83pc) are engaged and enthusiastic about information governance, this drops to 68pc of employees, with little being done to boost engagement – currently only a quarter (26pc) of businesses provide information governance training to all employees.

Sue Trombley, Director of Thought Leadership at Iron Mountain said: “The days of keeping everything just in case should be well and truly over if organisations want to protect the personal data they hold in compliance with the law. Yet this is only the case in one in five businesses. Getting it right requires good information governance, which, if it is to be successful, must involve everyone in the business from the top to the bottom. While we are seeing a strong desire among business managers to transition towards a more compliant approach to managing information, that desire is not being met with training programmes to harness employee support.

“In today’s data-driven business world, the desire to keep everything is understandable, but it can put businesses at risk of treating customer, employee, and business-critical information irresponsibly, or keeping sensitive information beyond its legal retention period. Without the right training employees will naturally be resistant to change. They cannot make good information management decisions unless they understand what to do and why it is important for the business. The message is simple: put measures in place to help employees now, or run the risk of non-compliance with the shifting data protection landscape and potentially face the severe penalties as a consequence.”

You can download to read the white paper: Prepare Now for the New EU Data Protection Law.

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