IBM 'tripling' efforts to help clients with GDPR and Brexit

IBM's Derek Schoettle says the company will not let down its customers

IBM has said it will be "tripling down" on its efforts to ensure clients are still able to take advantage of cloud innovations to counter the uncertainty from the Brexit vote and looming GDPR regulation changes.

With clients in the UK and EU, the US technology giant is taking extra effort to support companies moving to the cloud, and help them meet specific regulatory requirements.

Speaking at IBM InterConnect, Derek Schoettle, general manager of IBM's analytics platform and cloud data services, said: "All of our clients are in various stages of rationalising their existing investments and data centres, and implementing rules and regulations of the businesses they're in, and trying to understand how they take that to the public cloud."

However, many companies are struggling with how to take advantage of new cloud innovations, including popular AI capabilities powered by Watson, while adhering to both business frameworks and industry regulations, with the incoming GDPR data protection regulation putting strict new rules around how companies handle data.

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But Schoettle added: "IBM has a rich heritage of operating within the rules of the game: be it domestic, international, technology, processes, GDPR, there's new healthcare regulations... we are tripling down on making that a core part of our strategy."

Providing clients with answers

"We have clients in the EU, in the UK, US and other geographies - all of them are struggling with how to take advantage of the innovation that occurs in the cloud. It is an ongoing investment, and a priority for us. Compliance, governance and data - those are the three pillars that we orient a lot of our strategy and thinking behind."

The Brexit vote created uncertainty for many businesses who have stakes in both the UK and the EU, however IBM has said it is going to "invest so that clients that are predominately residents in the UK are not left without an answer", although Schoettle was not ready to specify what form this investment would take.

"It is an area where we can't let our clients down, and we won't. They're all looking for answers."

As the use of data accelerates, and the ways in which people are able to access that data grows, subsequent business models become more complex, particularly as companies now have to deal with differing compliance requirements in various markets.

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GDPR, which is set to apply in the UK from 25 May 2018, will replace the current Data Protection Act 1998 that the UK relies on for its data compliance rules. GDPR will essentially standardise rules throughout the EU, taking into account the new ways in which data is being used and granting customers more control over their information. It will also enact tougher penalties for non-compliance and data breaches.

"We are entering into an era where we need to do a good job of establishing the right operation environments, putting forth the right communication and transparency, so that our clients can trust that what they are doing with us is going to meet the needs of their clients, of their markets, and their specific regulatory requirements," said Schoettle.

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