The research surveyed 600 senior business decision makers and 1,200 employees across the UK, US, Germany and Australia. When asked whether firms currently have all of the necessary processes in place to be compliant the top five performing sectors included technology and telecommunications (32%), education (31%), IT (29%), business services (29%) and finance (29%).
The survey has also revealed, of all the sectors, healthcare is the least likely to be ready for the upcoming GDPR, with only 17% of private and public sector bodies claiming to have the processes in place to comply with the legislation. Following closely behind is the retail sector with a mere 18% of the industry ready for GDPR, and marketing at 19% and legal at 21%.
Overall, the research has shown that only a quarter (26%) of businesses are currently ready for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However with the deadline fast approaching, a further 44% are putting processes in place and expect to be ready in time for May next year, when the legislation comes into force.
Dr Guy Bunker, SVP of Products at Clearswift, said: “With 64% of UK businesses currently making moves towards GDPR compliance, the outlook is not as bleak as previously thought.
“It is clear that the regulation has grabbed the attention of businesses, but what is important is that their focus is in the right place. Those viewing GDPR as an opportunity will be in the best position to not only comply, but evolve their organisations, enhance their security posture and achieve business growth.”
“Educating employees about how to safeguard critical information, introducing data protection guidelines and instilling a culture of data consciousness in the workplace will not only bring organisations closer to compliance but help reduce the chances of a data breach.”
Although the majority of businesses may not currently be ready for GDPR, employers have begun to identifying the departments within their organisations where data protection is needed most. The most common departments to have budget allocated for spend on GDPR are finance and IT (31%). This is particularly relevant as most businesses believe their critical data predominantly lies in the finance department (55%), suggesting that finance will be under the spotlight in the coming months as organisations look at how they can prepare for GDPR.
When looking at the size of an organisation, 46% of the businesses that reported they are ready for GDPR had between 500 – 999 employees. Compared with larger corporations of 5000 or more employees, only 19% reported they are ready, suggesting that bigger is not necessarily better. Smaller enterprises are leading the way over their larger counterparts in putting processes and technology in place ahead of May 2018.
While many organisations are expecting to be ready for GDPR, our research has shown that a typical company-wide IT project takes around six months to roll-out, meaning those that aren’t ready now are running out of time to introduce new technology which could help them comply with the legislation.
Dr Bunker added: "The key focuses for GDPR compliance are educating employees and understanding where your data lies. However, organisations that are still looking at how they can prepare should focus on security solutions that can be integrated within existing infrastructures, such as Data Loss Prevention (DLP) tools and content inspection software, which are the biggest priorities in preventing data loss and can be used to demonstrate compliance with GDPR legislation. This can save time and costs by adding these to existing security investments instead of the removing old technology and replacing it with completely new solutions.