Compliance is a critical element of modern business. Yet, it must be remembered that it is not simply a case of achieving IT compliance and moving on to the next task. Rather, compliance needs to be continuously maintained if organisations want to avoid falling foul of increasingly large fines, especially with the enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). After May 25th, if a company is found to be in breach of the stringent regulation, it will face fines of up to 4% of global annual turnover, or £20m — whichever is greater.
Compliance is an organisational commitment of the modern age that spans both technologies and processes. It forms part of a governance regime that embodies good practice, and it simply makes commercial sense.
Continuous compliance — the act of not just achieving compliance, but maintaining it over a long-term period — is something that many modern businesses are already doing in some form. However, there are several barriers to it being done effectively. Size, growth and understanding remain the largest. There is also a burgeoning skills gap too; the reality is that IT teams often don’t have the right skillset internally to ensure cross-organisational compliance with constantly shifting industry regulations.
Technology can aid compliance
To give them the best chance of success, it is important that IT teams use tools that provide them with everything they need to know about their compliance in a single dashboard. The good news is there is generally a significant amount of overlap between various regulatory frameworks, so if they become compliant with one, the chances are that achieving compliance on the next one won’t be nearly as complex.
We are all aware of the benefits that cloud computing can bring to a modern business. While historically there were concerns about security, that has all but disappeared as the cloud has garnered more widespread acceptance. Today, businesses large and small in the UK have increasingly moved processes to the cloud and reduced their capital expenditure in one fell swoop.
Compliance in the cloud
With cloud technology being used on such a grand scale, it only makes sense that it factors into corporate compliance efforts. There are still technical and security-related obstacles to consider, but the advantages afforded by cloud technology outweigh anything else.
Most significantly, using cloud technology allows businesses to audit, query, alert and resolve any cloud infrastructure changes through virtual means – an incredibly powerful tool for any business to have at its disposal. It can also deliver significant cost savings and streamline workflows through automating certain processes, simplifying reporting and cutting down on the number of compliance and reporting tools needed.
More specifically, cloud technology can help achieved the unified approach that is required for continuous compliance. A cloud-based platform can enable businesses to integrate all its relevant compliance-based data and information into a single view, thanks to the ability to consolidate their existing management tools and their respective data sources. This enables the standardisation and normalisation of the data before querying against a policy engine that incorporates a subset of rules that align to multiple regulatory frameworks.
When implemented and configured in the right way, this can provide operators with an intuitive compliance dashboard that combines data sources from across the organisation, allowing them to see what they’re doing right and where they’re going wrong, at-a-glance and in near real-time.
Finally, cloud technology gives organisations the ability to continually track their infrastructures and trigger alerts when necessary instantaneously. Using our pre-defined rules and the ability to add bespoke policies, a cloud-based platform can continuously pull information and check it against the controls it has in place to identify any instances of non-conformities, which makes it simpler for any issues to be audited and resolved.
The cloud isn’t a hidden landscape — rather, it offers a tremendous amount of transparency. While in 2018 compliance may be challenging, it is achievable. So is continuous compliance, something that can add significant value to a business wanting to thrive in a global marketplace governed by stringent regulations. The use of the right platform, supported by a team of experts, can go a long way towards removing the complexity from the process of compliance and then ensuring it is continuously maintained.