With Brexit approaching many of us are starting to plan for the impact it will have on our businesses from supply chains, to payments, to regulations to infrastructure – but many of us are not focusing on data.

Data is hugely important as it can aid decision-making in the event of various Brexit scenarios.

Companies are also underestimating the need for an enhanced volume of data to meet the future challenges which may arise.

With current EU regulations in place such as GDPR, it’s crucial that companies assess their data in relation to regulation and business processes as well as the implications that Brexit may bring. This means not only looking at your internal data as a business, but also auditing any data suppliers that you utilise.

The thought of a data audit may be terrifying – but it can be a great exercise, not just for compliance and security, but also for identifying new solutions that provide opportunities for the business.

First of all, you should determine what data you have and where it is. For many organisations, there is often a lack of control over this. It’s crucial to find out exactly what data is held so it can be protected from security threats or breaches, be compliant and be utilised for management of ongoing risks from Brexit.

Your company data may be held by an EU provider such as your cloud supplier, which means there could be implications for access and regulation after 12th April; in addition, disaster recovery services may also be located in the EU even if the main servers are UK-based.

Plan ahead. You must assess compliance of all your data with relevant regulations related to risk reduction and finances, including GDPR, BCBS239, Dodd-Frank, CCAR, Basel III, MiFID II, KYC and FATCA.

This exercise is also an opportunity to understand how the data can be working harder for the business and refine your overall strategy.

Bringing in expertise from all teams to explore limitations on data, or what they would like the data to do for them, helps you find the best solution to help improve business agility and encourage enterprise thinking.

INSIGHT: HOW WILL PERSONAL DATA CONTINUE TO FLOW AFTER BREXIT?

Invest in tech. Once you have an understanding of any gaps or weaknesses in the business, you can consider investing in solutions that enable compliance but also good data management which will also enhance business agility for any future regulation that may come into play.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that different data or business functions may require different approaches, and that one solution may not be right across the company.

Look at technology that can enhance record keeping practices, improve data privacy capability, aid with issues such as supply chain management and seamlessly accommodate cloud software.

Implement and evaluate. I am firm believer that in the modern world we all need a greater understanding of data, how to use it and how to protect it. Education on data literacy and good data management, will help any new solutions become a success and ensure ongoing business improvement.

Make data management part of your culture, plan for ongoing audits and request feedback from the teams using the data to make sure that processes are still fit for purpose and to identify when things to evolve.

The future for companies in the UK has never been more unknown as we approach Brexit, however by making sure your company is ready for any outcome will give you control over an uncertain future.

Steve Whiting is COO of Agile Solutions and has over 15 years’ consulting experience working with leading UK firms on data management and analytics.