At Rise we are truly lucky to be immersed within a community of experts. Each individual has their own talent, opinion and knowledge. We decided that instead of writing what we thought of the world and the industries we all work in, why don’t we ask them?

This has part of our series of Q&A style articles that we hope will inspire you, educate you, and or empower you.

 

We had a chat with Mark Gracey who is a Data and Privacy Compliance Expert and spoke all things compliance, GDPR and the transition of working for yourself…

 

 

RISE: What is your name and your job title?

 

Mark: Hi, I’m Mark Gracey – I never know what to put as my job title as I run my own business, guess “owner”, but I tend to introduce myself as a data and privacy compliance expert, so maybe I need a job title that fits that…

 

RISE: What was it like jumping from being employed to working for yourself?

 

Mark: Generally I found the transition very easy, but once you get under the hood of running your own business you quickly realise its much more complicated than just delivering the service – you have to be the marketing manager, the accountant, the sales person and so on, but it’s very exciting knowing you’re in charge but some days quite daunting too. I love the fact that I call the shots – the success of the business depends on me and that’s very empowering. It’s hard work for sure, but I absolutely love it.

 

RISE: Since May last year do you think the world of compliance and GDPR has dramatically changed? Are we all WAY more accountable?

 

Mark: Data protection compliance in general hasn’t changed – we’ve had a comprehensive data protection law since the late 90s, but what the GDPR did when it came in last year, amongst other things, was to remind businesses that data protection compliance exists and is important for all businesses no matter what size or sector. It also raised awareness amongst data subjects (customers, employees, etc.) too, meaning they’ve been reminded that they have certain rights (and some new ones) and can challenge organisations about how their data is being processed.

 

As for accountability – well on the one hand we’ve always been accountable for our own compliance, but what the GDPR has done has raised the bar somewhat, with the new accountability principle which means it’s not just good enough that you think you’re compliant, you have to prove it too. It’s a big deal, particularly as we come round to the anniversary of GDPR enforcement – businesses have to prove they’re compliant now, next week, next month, next year… not just last May.

 

RISE: For those interested in getting into compliance, where would they start?

 

Mark: There’s a number of routes to compliance. There’s obviously the legal route, where you can study law and then specialise, but having a law degree isn’t a prerequisite. You’ll need an interest in law and be able to understand legal concepts and it will help in being able to translate complex laws in practical application.

My route into compliance came about 20 or so years ago. I’m a “techy” by nature (I have a Computer Science degree) and was working in the Network Operations Centre of a well known internet service provider and had the opportunity to move into the legal team and act as a “translator” between the legal team and the techies. That began my career in internet regulation, telecoms regulation, content liability and of course data protection (I became a data protection officer when the 1998 Act came into force). So I’m not a lawyer by trade, although I do have a Masters Degree in Computer and Communications Law.

 

RISE: Is there any advice you would give to businesses now we’re nearly a year on after GDPR has been enforced?

 

Mark: Make sure you’re still compliant. The GDPR requires you to review your compliance and so you shouldn’t think of GDPR compliance as just something you did back in May 2018. You’ll need to look at everything again, perhaps not in as much detail as you probably did last year but you need to (a) make sure your documentation, policies and employee training is up to date, etc. and (b) that your internal processes for dealing with day to day compliance still work (e.g. dealing with breaches, subject access requests and other individuals’ rights, etc.) You should also be keeping on eye on developments in the data protection and privacy as guidance and approaches to enforcement can change over time.

This is the focus for a new e-book I’ve produced which provides a framework for managing ongoing compliance or a 10 item checklist of things to check you’re still doing right.

At Rise we are truly lucky to be immersed within a community of experts. Each individual has their own talent, opinion and knowledge. We decided that instead of writing what we thought of the world and the industries we all work in, why don’t we ask them?

This has part of our series of Q&A style articles that we hope will inspire you, educate you, and or empower you.


We spoke with James Spinks the Sales Director at Grapevine about the incoming 5G technology, and how you get into the industry at hand.

 

RISE: How has telecoms advanced over the last 5-10 years with such a huge boom in the technology industry?

James: 10 years ago, IT and telecommunications were fundamentally separate.  As telecoms technology evolved, IT did the same and there was no doubt about the coming merger of the two. We now have lots of new integrated computer / phone / internet of things (IOT) solutions changing business and consumer landscapes, driven by the IT and telecoms convergence and the decreasing margins on traditional single product solutions

RISE: With the promise of 5G on the horizon, have you had any insight as to how this will change your business and the world of telecoms?

James: From a user’s perspective, 5G will fundamentally change how connectivity, applications and content are consumed, whilst from a provider’s perspective, 5G presents enormous opportunities for network efficiency to deliver innovative services.

RISE: Have you found that you have had to instil more security features as data breaches become more and more apparent it would seem?

James: Whilst we have always been security focused in our core specialities, the GDPR mandate has driven us to streamline the data we use and store, find more efficient ways to communicate with our clients, and help our client base with their own security challenges, through the proactive offering of cost-efficient subscription based security software and innovative hardware solutions.

RISE: Regarding the above have you seen a decline in trust with your clients and how have you mitigated this?

James: As a provider of solutions to our client base for over 25 years trust has never been an issue and we have used this platform to reassure our clients wariness through the provision of appropriate solutions for their requirements, rather than profiteering from the scaremongering in the wider press.

RISE: Do you find marketing campaigns useful in managing and retaining this trust and also to engage and inform your clients?

James: Marketing communications has been key through the transformation of our business, from a reseller of mobile contracts to a fully integrated IT and telecoms service provider. The focus of our marketing communications has been to educate. This has allowed us to both reassure our clients that we are ahead of emerging trends in technology and showcase the benefits of new solutions available to their business.

RISE: Within the world of telecoms, is there ever an easier route in, for example having specific qualifications or is it a case of working your way up?

James: Because the majority of our solutions are bespoke, experience and qualifications are never mandatory.  However, achieving good qualifications is proof of a commitment to a target. Application of both intelligence and hard work and will always be a yardstick by which to compare candidates.  Honesty, integrity and common sense are more valuable commodities in employees than ever before and the challenge is for an individual to convey these strengths in a CV or interview environment.

RISE: Is there any new technologies that we should be aware of that is going to ‘change the game’ like the Cloud did?

James: Given the superior specification of the forthcoming 5G platform, this new technology will change the game for both mobile and fixed communications.  The promise of faster, more agile and secure wireless technology provides the opportunity to bring scalability, security and universal mobility across the telecommunications industry, with expected benefits to all industries from improved broadcasting to automation through IOT.