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The ICO recently published its annual track on data protection and the awareness of it. Amazingly 59% of the UK public have major concerns about how their data is being handled, so if you have a business that handles data, what are you doing to calm those fears, which can only help you relate to and interact with your customers better?

If the recession has taught us anything, it’s that relationships are key and will get us through difficult times.  Many of my clients have been helped by their client management strategies and they have maintained their relationships which are paying them dividends this year.

In 2010 the annual report also pointed to the fact that many UK business are unaware of what their responsibilities are, and some business are facing fines due to not conforming to legislation.

Equally are you one of only 14% of UK businesses who know about the 8 data protection principles relating to the storage of personal data?

Here they are for reference:

  1. Data should be processed fairly and lawfully.
  2. It should be obtained for specified and lawful purposes.
  3. It should be adequate, relevant and not excessive.
  4. Accurate and up to date.
  5. Not kept any longer than necessary.
  6. Processed in accordance with the “data subject’s” (the individual’s) rights.
  7. Securely kept.
  8. Not transferred to any other country without adequate protection in situ.

If you want to see a copy of the latest annual ICO report, click here.

What does this mean for you going forward?

Businesses need to grab hold of this issue and manage proactively. They need to really manage the confidence of their surfers and make it really clear what they are going to use their data for.  Yes, it’s great to have a data protection policy on your website – but does it really deal with any confidence issues that your clients may have?

Have you even read your policy?  How approachable does it make you seem?  Is it accessible online?

Equally, it’s not enough to simply have a decent backup of data. You need to manage it effectively and ensure that the data stored is appropriate and accessible. Failure to do this will lead to in the very least unhappy customers, and at most a damaged business.

Bear in mind that bad news travel fast, and it travels even faster and farther in the new online, social world we find ourselves living and trading in.

What do you think? Do you find the data protection legislation a mine field? Are you sure of what you need to do to protect your consumers and your business?

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