SMB concerns over Brexit-related data sovereignty

A new NetApp survey has found that IT decision makers across UK small and medium businesses (1-250 employees) are concerned about Brexit related data sovereignty, with almost a third of SMBs (30%) saying GDPR worries will be eclipsed by the new data sovereignty concerns created by Brexit. However, a quarter of SMBs are still not meeting the GDPR regulations, introduced almost a year ago.

•Limited impact on SMB EU customer targeting:

The survey reveals that SMBs are less likely to be impacted by data regulation when targeting EU customers. Almost half say data sovereignty (47%) and data residency (48%) have not affected their company’s customer targeting in the EU so far, and 15% (data residency) and 16% (data sovereignty) are uncertain if data regulation had a tangible impact yet. Comparatively IT decision makers from large businesses (250+) express more uncertainty, with over a quarter saying they do not know if data sovereignty (28%) and data residency (27%) has affected their customer targeting in the EU jurisdiction.

•SMB data regulation concerns increase:

Concerns around data regulation as a whole appear to be increasing, with 44% of SMB IT decision makers saying that they have more concerns since the introduction of GDPR. This is in line with the 47% of large business IT decision makers who are now more concerned than they were in May last year. There is a bigger discrepancy though when it comes to concern levels plateauing: whilst over a third (35%) of SMB IT decision makers say that levels have remained the same since the introduction of GDPR last year, just over a quarter (26%) of IT decision makers from large businesses are equally confident.

•Disconnect between SMB GDPR readiness and optimism:

This lull in concern is underscored by the fact that a quarter (25%) of smaller business admit they are not yet fully adhering to GDPR guidelines. Despite these figures, 34% believe that data regulation has already positively impacted the financial performance of their business. A further 19% say while it has not yet had an impact, they anticipate a positive one on financial performance in the next 12 months. Businesses with more than 250 employees are equally optimistic, with 39% saying that data regulation has already had a positive impact on the financial performance of their organisation and a further 14% saying that while has not yet had an impact, they expect a positive one.

•SMBs businesses worry more about Brexit:

While 30% of UK SMBs believe Brexit concerns will outweigh previous GDPR worries, less than a quarter of larger businesses say the same (24%). However, 24% of IT decision makers from large businesses say they think concern levels will remain the same, compared to just 18% of SMBs. The figures suggest that while concern levels are notable across business size, SMBs are more prone to worry while large businesses are more cautious about the uncertainty ahead.

Martin Warren, Cloud Solutions Marketing Manager EMEA, NetApp: “It is vital that the UK’s SMBs know exactly where their data sits and that it is being correctly managed, based on current legislation but also impending changes that may occur as a result of the UK leaving the EU. This goes for all businesses, regardless of size – or perceived impact.

“Optimism around data regulation is great, if it is grounded in the reality of compliance needs and they are being acted upon proactively. A stringent data management MOT checklist is essential to keep the SMB engine in order, to both keep up with current regulations and to prepare for any changes that may arise from the EU departure. With Brexit uncertainty ahead of us, GDPR gives SMBs a benchmark from which to navigate future data regulation issues, so they best take it seriously.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine