Safeguarding Your Data Assets with an Outsourced Data Protection Officer

By Aaron Martin - 27 Aug 2018

Do you know what your data is worth?

These days, the value of data cannot be understated. In fact, you’ve probably heard the idea tossed around that your data is your most valuable resource. For many businesses, SaaS or otherwise, this is arguably quite true. But if you’re hoping for an equation that you can use to actually quantify your data, good luck - even the guys at MIT Sloan have only begun to scratch the surface of that idea. One one side there’s the positive value that can be gained when a business harnesses that data effectively; on the flipside, there’s the tremendous cost of losing or mishandling data.

Suffice to say that the value of your data - whatever it may be - has gone up considerably in recent years. Mounting concern worldwide about data privacy has led to the enactment of strict regulations that place a daunting responsibility on businesses to secure their data to a very high standard. Businesses of all sizes (yes, yours too!) must now demonstrate that they have systems in place to protect the data they handle in order to satisfy not only their legal obligations but also the expectations of their customers and shareholders. Those that don’t do so risk losing market share to their better-prepared competitors.

As a result of this trend toward better data protection standards, more and more businesses are looking to professional data protection officers to help leverage this opportunity to gain the advantage.

The Data Protection Officer

Largely unknown and hardly in demand three years ago, skilled data protection officers (aka DPOs) became a hot commodity in the months prior to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation going live in May of 2018. The reason? A qualified and knowledgeable DPO can understand and articulate the complex laws and regulations that a business must adhere to even those ‘grey areas’ in legal jurisdiction that arise when an international business needs to comply with multiple, overlapping, and sometimes contradictory laws.

Moreover, the DPO can assist an organisation with the complicated process of updating its data privacy and security: assessing the risk of a data breach and the impact of said breach, developing workable strategies and policies for data processing, and even training staff to act accordingly. With data at such a premium, you can imagine how valuable such expertise has become.

Why It Makes Sense to Outsource the DPO Role

While larger enterprises may be willing and able to employ an onsite DPO, doing so may not be practical for the average business. Fortunately, outsourcing the position is a viable alternative that has several advantages:

  1. The DPO position requires specialist skills that may not be readily available locally - especially if the IAPP’s (International Association of Privacy Professionals) prediction that we are facing a shortage of suitably qualified DPOs is correct (They anticipate a demand of 28,000 in the Eurozone alone, and a total global demand of seventy-five thousand).

  2. Outsourcing the DPO role will both save time and spare expenses for businesses. Above all, by outsourcing the role of the data officer, a business can derive benefits by way of cost, expertise, speedy implementation and scalability.

  3. Many small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) who not under any regulatory compulsion to appoint a DPO may still decide to outsource the position to a service provider in order to qualify to bid for tenders floated by large public sector undertakings.

  4. Small sized companies often find it hard to grapple with the complexities involved in fully understanding data processing and data security operations. Outsourcing the role of the Data Protection Officer may be the best option for them.  

  5. Another important reason for outsourcing the role is the fact that in the case of an external service provider there is no conflict of interest between the DPO and other business activities.

  6. Outsourcing the role of a DPO will help businesses apply the best practices with regard to data security, helping them both achieve and maintain regulatory compliance with.

With the value of data at an all-time high and the risks of mishandling that data incalculable, partnering with a data protection officer who can advise them on the best (and most cost-effective) ways to meet their needs makes good business sense for the majority of SMEs. Interested in finding out more about what a virtual data protection officer can do for you? One of our consultants would be glad to fill you in. Simply visit our contact page and drop us a line and we’ll get in touch with you to answer any questions you may have.