Mike Ross is Commercial Director of Wizuda & a former Irish Rugby International. He grew up on a pedigree Holstein dairy farm in Ballyhooly, Co. Cork and later graduated from UCC with B.Sc in Plant and Microbial Biotechnology.

Wizuda is a Dublin-based technology business, providing software solutions which enable organisations to manage data transfer and file sharing activities in compliance with GDPR. Mike will be speaking at a Farmex seminar on Friday October 12 at the Hub in Kilkenny on the Implications for Farming of GDPR Regulations

The new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on May 25 and have been a hot topic ever since. These new regulations are designed to harmonise data privacy laws across Europe and protect the data of its citizens. 

Under GDPR there is the potential for a 4 %-of-turnover fines for serious breaches in data protection. However in most organisations the cost of poor quality data runs to a multiple of that, but is accepted as a cost of doing business.

According to industry expert Dr Tom Redman and his colleagues in University College Cork their research found that less than 3% of data in the organisations they studied met basic data quality standards.  It was either inaccurate or missing required values.

Apparently the cost of poor-quality data in the average organisation ranges between 10 and 30% of turnover as information needs to be checked, rechecked, and corrected before it can be used.

The GDPR dividend here for all in the Agri sector and food business(and farms registered as companies) is that it requires one to think about how information about customers etc.  Is being processed in your organisation, and about why you have it.

 You will now be required to document those core processes and ensure you have systems in place to identify and fix errors in data when you find them. Putting in the right model for GDPR can also help your sales cycles.

Recent research shows that organisations with less mature privacy practices have an average of 16.8 weeks delay in their sales cycle while those with mature privacy practices had sales delays of only 3.4 weeks.

Investing in GDPR can help reduce your sales cycles through better management of customer data, transparency and accountability for their data.

People care about their data so this trust issue is not just limited to examples such as Facebook, but can have a serious impact even on small business.

It is this trust factor that shortens sales cycles and improves customer retention. Trust also attracts new customers, better employees, or potential investors.

As people become more aware of their rights and how data about them can be used, misused, or abused, they may ask questions of your data protection policy.

An investment in doing the additional things that GDPR requires of business (document processes, improve transparency, improve governance) will help your brand image and staff morale.

For Agribusiness, GDPR will bring a number of operational requirements. They will need to implement new business processes such as privacy impact assessments, allocate new responsibilities such as data-protection officer and heed specific rules governing breach notification.

The GDPR particularly focuses on the concept of “explicit consent”. This is intended to forbid models based on opting-in as a default, or simply burying consent acceptance into the text of terms and conditions that typically remain unread.

Companies and managers can inform themselves of their obligations and their employees’ rights by visiting the website of the Data Protection Commissioner (dataprotection.ie) 

However, the onus is on everybody, particularly small companies, to understand precisely what the GDPR means for their business, and what steps they need to take to demonstrate and achieve compliance.

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