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It's 'only' a channel opportunity

When the word only crops up in research it usually means the channel ears should prick up argues Billy MacInnes

Whenever I see the word “only” connected to a figure in a piece of research, my initial response is to view it as a potential opportunity for channel businesses. I’m sure you can appreciate why. After all, the word “only” usually conveys a sense of disappointment, that the result it is attached to is well below what was expected. Try it for yourself and see.

It’s not always true, of course. For example, we can use it to express our satisfaction with something, as in “my iPhone was a real bargain, it only cost me £300” or “the journey here was much shorter than I thought it would be, it only took us two hours”.

Anyway, in this instance, it is the first, more common, usage that applies with the news that a recent survey found only 9% of SME owners in the UK understand what the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) means for their business or have taken steps to prepare themselves for it. With GDPR scheduled to take effect in May next year, that’s quite an alarming statistic.

Not quite as alarming, perhaps, as the finding that 46% (of 1,000 SMEs surveyed for Aldermore by Opinium Research) had never even heard of GDPR. Given the harsh penalties that the GDPR regime will apply to those who fail to comply – fines of up to €20m or 4% of turnover – this is close to economic suicide for many small businesses.

With this lackadaisical attitude to a fundamentally important change to the data protection regime, it should come as no surprise to find that SME owners have a lax approach to protecting themselves against cybercrime. While more than half of them are concerned about it and 22% have been affected by a data breach, only a third see protection against cybercrime as a high priority and a quarter don’t think it is at all.

It’s probably just as interesting that 22% of them think it’s important but they haven’t had the time to look into how to safeguard themselves. But when it comes to alarming figures, the 12% who say they can’t afford to protect themselves properly is probably the scariest.

Still, if you flip all those figures around, it means there are 91% of SMEs who need help to understand what GDPR means for their business and how to prepare for it. In the immortal words of Hughie Green (if you’re too young to know who he is, look him up), “Opportunity Knocks”. There’s good business for someone who can help SMEs prepare for GDPR and protect themselves properly against cybercrime without breaking the bank.

That someone is a channel partner.

And for anyone inclined to dismiss the significance of that market opportunity, I have only this to say: 91% is not a figure you put the word “only” before.

This was last published in September 2017

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