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Data protection firmly on the agenda next year

EU data protection laws will get customers spending next year but there might be a slight issue working out who to talk to about it at a customer level

Those channel players that operate in the security market will be rolling up their sleeves and urging the days to pass by so they can get stuck into 2017 and helping customers deal with GDPR.

It is becoming clear that next year is going to be a period of investment from customers as they prepare for EU data protection rules that will start from May 2018.

The regulations threaten to heavily fine those firms guilty of failing to take steps to protect themselves against a data breach and are making firms sit up and take notice.

Earlier this week, Dave Allen, vice president Western Europe, Palo Alto Networks, said that it was expecting next year to be a busy one as customers started to ramp up their investments in data protection.

"2017 is going to be a year of activity. Those partners investing in knowledge in these areas will find that GDPR creates opportunity," he said.

That view is echoed by others in the security market who expect the next 12 months to be busy ones as customers get ready for GDPR.

"This year has been a time for investigation and it has not been very clear [to customers] about what they needed to do. But now we are seeing customers asking how it is going to be delivered," said Justine Cross, regional director at Watchful Software.

She added that it was starting to see "GDPR project managers" emerge as customers started to formalise their reaction to the forthcoming regulations.

"If you are trading in the EU then you have to do it and they cannot be that many companies that are just UK trading," she added about the potential size of the opportunity for the channel.

The other positive for the channel is that a vast number of users have yet to embark on a strategy making them ideal targets for those that have the skills to help navigate them through GDPR.

Research from Veritas Technologies indicates that more than half of organisations have started to work on meeting the compliance regulations.

“GDPR is the most significant change to data protection in a generation and an imminent global issue that will dominate data privacy, management and regulation discussions in 2017,” said Mike Palmer, executive vice president and chief product officer at Veritas.

“To avoid potential regulatory fines or worse, damage to their corporate brands and reputations, global enterprises must take action now to understand where their data resides and how to protect it," he added.

Who's in charge?

One of the big problems that Veritas found in its research is that customers were not clear about who was looking after GDPR

* 32% of respondents believed the CIO had to take responsibility
* 14% thought it should be the CEO
* 10% were looking at the chief data officer for leadership

Read more on Data Protection Services