Data Protection: It’s More Than Just Laws!

Data Protection: It’s More Than Just Laws!

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In today’s tech-savvy world, protecting data has become important, especially for small businesses looking to build their teams. And guess what? It’s not all about the scary laws and penalties. It’s about keeping your business, customers, team members, and future safe and sound.

So, Why Should You Care About Data Protection?

You might think data protection is all about ticking boxes for legal compliance.

I have been told on more than one occasion that there is way too much compliance, too many rules and regulations and that they do not believe in it.

I will be honest, and maybe it is because of my background in education, health, and social care, but I was a bit shocked.

Maybe I approach legislation and regulations from a different perspective. They are so much more! I view them as there to build foundations and keep our clients and businesses safe.

It’s about building trust with your clients. When you show them you’re serious about keeping their info safe, you’re telling them you value them and their trust in your business. And that’s a big deal! It can boost your business reputation, keep your customers loyal, and even set you on the growth path.

Let’s look at it from a customer view for a minute. You buy something and get it home, but it doesn’t work. Or even worse, it goes kaboom after a couple of weeks. What do you? Usually, after triple-checking it, a few choice words, and a lot of grumbling, it is either on the phone or back to the shop to complain and get a replacement. As a customer, how they deal with this complaint is crucial. If dealt with badly, you definitely will not return to them. But without the Consumer Rights Act, as customers, we would not have that protection and the rights that go with it.

Loss of Trust

Let’s not forget—protecting your business’s sensitive data is super important. Your business data is precious, and losing it could be a nightmare, causing all sorts of problems like disrupting operations, losing money, or even facing legal issues. So, a solid data protection strategy is a must-have for your business’s smooth sailing and success.

In real terms, customers and clients buy from those with a good reputation and who they can trust. 33% of businesses state they lost business due to a breach, while 75% of consumers say they consider severing ties with a business.

Laws: The Friendly Guides

Data protection laws might seem tough to crack, but they’re your friend. They’re not out to get you – they’re here to help protect and reduce the risk to your business and clients from the increased risk of data breaches, which could lead to significant losses and a damaged reputation. These laws give you a roadmap to understand what you must do to protect your data.

Following the guidelines can reduce your risk and create a safer digital space for your business. Plus, staying compliant can boost your business’s image as a trustworthy and responsible organisation.

Data Protection: It’s A Must-Have!

Data protection isn’t just an extra in our digital world – it’s a necessity. Small businesses are just as vulnerable to cyber threats or data breaches. They’re often targeted because they’re seen as having weaker security. That’s why investing in solid data protection measures is key and does not have to break the bank.

Doing some simple changes can shield your business, your clients, and your future growth. Good data protection can lower the risk of financial loss, protect your business reputation, and lay a strong foundation for growth. Plus, it can give you a competitive edge, as customers are increasingly drawn to businesses that take data protection seriously.

Wrapping Up

So, data protection isn’t just about dodging legal penalties. It’s about doing what’s suitable for your business and your clients, protecting your business’s most valuable assets, and ensuring its long-term success. By seeing data protection as an essential business need rather than just a legal requirement, small businesses can create a secure digital space that builds trust, promotes growth, and keeps the future safe.

Ready to take action? Prioritise data protection in your business today. Start by evaluating your current data security measures, identifying potential risks, and developing a robust data protection strategy. Remember, it’s not just about compliance; it’s about safeguarding your business’s future. The time to act is now!

Book your free clarity call today.

Navigating the Future: PECR and Digital Marketing in the UK for Small Businesses

Navigating the Future: PECR and Digital Marketing in the UK for Small Businesses

Navigating the Future: PECR and Digital Marketing in the UK for Small Businesses

In today’s digital landscape, social media has become an indispensable tool for small businesses aiming to expand their reach and engage with their customer base more effectively. However, with the power of digital marketing comes the responsibility of adhering to regulatory frameworks designed to protect consumer privacy. In the UK, one of the key regulations governing electronic communications for marketing purposes is the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). For small businesses navigating the complex interplay between digital marketing and data protection laws, understanding PECR is crucial.

Understanding PECR

PECR stands for the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, complementing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 in the UK. While GDPR covers the broader aspects of data protection and privacy, PECR focuses specifically on electronic communications. It sets out rules regarding the sending of marketing emails, texts, and calls, the use of cookies, and the security of public electronic communications services.

PECR’s implications are significant for small businesses utilising social media and digital marketing. The regulations ensure that marketing communications are sent only to those with explicit consent, safeguarding individuals’ privacy and preventing unsolicited marketing. PECR covers many different aspects, and I will not explore all of it it here. The key areas in this blog will be

  • Legitimate interest: the ‘Soft opt-in’
  • Consent

In a separate article, we will examine cold emailing and the difference between individuals and corporate entities (registered businesses).

Deciding if legitimate interest or consent

PECR states that the legitimate interest test for direct electronic marketing is
“A person may send or instigate the sending of electronic mail for the purposes of direct marketing where—
(a) that person has obtained the contact details of the recipient of that electronic mail in the course of the sale or negotiations for the sale of a product or service to that recipient;
(b) direct marketing is in respect of that person’s similar products and services only, and
(c) the recipient has been given a simple means of refusing (free of charge except for the costs of transmitting the refusal) the use of his contact details for the purposes of such direct marketing at the time that the details were initially collected and, where he did not initially refuse the use of the details, at the time of each subsequent communication.”

You must hit all three to use this as a legitimate interest and record the assessment.

If you can not hit all 3, you will need to use consent as a legal reason to process their information and market.

PECR and Social Media for Small Businesses

So, not to get confused, the rest of this article looks at marketing and consent.

Social media platforms are powerful tools for small businesses to conduct marketing campaigns, engage with customers, and enhance brand visibility. However, PECR mandates that companies obtain explicit consent before sending direct marketing messages through electronic channels, including social media, where legitimate interest has not already been assessed.

Consent under PECR means that individuals must clearly understand what they are agreeing to and take positive action to give their consent. Pre-ticked boxes or assuming consent from inactivity are unacceptable practices under PECR.

Furthermore, when using cookies or similar technologies to track users’ behaviour on your website or social media platforms, PECR requires businesses to inform users about the cookies, explain what they do, and obtain their consent before placing them.

  1. Obtain Explicit Consent: Ensure that your marketing practices are transparent and that you obtain explicit consent from individuals before sending them marketing communications through social media or any other electronic means.
  2. Be Clear About the Use of Cookies: If your website or social media campaigns use cookies, clearly inform your users about them and obtain their consent before tracking their activity.
  3. Provide Easy Opt-Out Options: Compliance with PECR also means providing individuals with an easy way to withdraw their consent at any time. Ensure that opting out of marketing communications is as easy as opting in.
  4. Keep Records of Consent: If required, maintain records of when and how consent was obtained to prove compliance with PECR.
  5. Stay Informed: Regulatory landscapes are continually evolving. Stay informed about any updates or changes to PECR and GDPR to ensure ongoing compliance.

Navigating the Future

As digital marketing continues to evolve, so too will the regulatory landscape governing it. For small businesses in the UK, staying ahead of these changes is not just about compliance; it’s about building trust with your customers. By respecting their privacy and adhering to regulations like PECR, you demonstrate your commitment to ethical business practices.

In conclusion, while navigating PECR and digital marketing may seem daunting, it offers an opportunity for small businesses to differentiate themselves and build stronger relationships with their customers. By embracing these regulations, small businesses can leverage social media and digital marketing more effectively and responsibly, ensuring a future where growth and compliance go hand in hand.

Book your clarity call to discover how our expertise in PECR compliance can elevate your digital marketing strategy. Let’s grow your business together.

Microsoft 365: The lesser-known apps that make a difference

Microsoft 365: The lesser-known apps that make a difference

When it comes to the Microsoft 365 landscape, everyone has their go-to favourites. Many of us tend to stick with them. But do you know all the apps, including the ‘lesser-known’ ones?

They are familiar, easy to use and integrate perfectly with the other 365 apps we use. So why would we want to changehow we work and organiseg tasks that work so well?

The answer might lie in the wide range of lesser-known 365 apps and features we haven’t yet tried. They might have the potential to make life even better! This is the third and final blog in the series. Click here to read apps for remote working or more that make a difference.

Here are just a few of them and the different aspects of your business they can help:

Customer Management

If you aren’t giving your customers the best experience possible, you risk losing them to a business.

Fortunately, a handy duo of Microsoft 365 apps can make a difference in your customer relationship management.

People

People is the address book that can be created and shared across the business. It can incorporate room bookings, external and internal contacts, and groups.

Bookings

If your business relies on appointments, then Bookings can be a lifeline. It is a web-based booking calendar that can be embedded into existing websites and shared via links or social media.

Bookings integrate with other 365 apps, such as Outlook, to send reminders and is even available as a feature within Teams. This allows users to create new calendars, assign staff and manage appointments in one convenient space.

Lists & Forms

Organisations are increasingly reaching out to customers and colleagues. Whether it be through a checklists or forms. This can be as part of the qualities that businesses strive for in a world.

Lists

Lists help us stay on track and get things done. Don’t be fooled by the name, it is not a to-do list, but rather a checklist. It is available as both a mobile and web-based app. This ensure users have everything they need at their fingertips, wherever they are.

Lists are intelligent and highly flexible and can easily be created and embedded into Teams channels with templates for every conceivable requirement. It does come with some templates which include issue tracker, employee onboarding, work progress tracker and even a content scheduler.

Forms

Forms are elegant and straightforward; it allows users to reach out to anyone on any device or browser for customer feedback, test knowledge, or evaluate learning.

The forms themselves can be highly customised, and integration with SharePoint lists and PowerApps can create incredibly rich and highly automated surveys, polls or quizzes with security and compliance built-in as standard.

File storage & Collaboration

OneDrive and SharePoint

As so much of the business world is working outside of their offices, the need to organise, store and share files and access them on a range of devices has never been greater for many businesses that use OneDrive. This solution works well for many and comes with a range of benefits.

However, SharePoint is a cloud-based service for any sized business that takes file storage, secure access, and collaboration to another level. SharePoint allows users to create entire sites and provides access to vital company information safely and compliantly.

SharePoint is one of the leading Intranet solutions for business, one on which many of the top companies already rely upon.

Note Taking

Nearly everyone relies on notes at some time or another. What better way to jot down reminders, tasks for the day or important information we might need later? OneNote is, for many, the ideal way to organise notes, translate text and share them when needed, but there is another option with just as much potential.

Whiteboard

Sharing thoughts, ideas, and brainstorming are crucial aspects of a successful business; Whiteboard enables a simple, no-nonsense interface. It is ideal for mobile devices and tablets, allowing users to share sticky notes, drawings, images or pasted text with a simple link.

As with so many of the apps in the Microsoft 365 environment, Whiteboard’s strength is integration. For example, as a part of Teams, it can be invaluable, a benefit that other whiteboard-style apps don’t have.

Visio

It is one of those apps that doesn’t quite fit anywhere. Visio is a great app for creating those visual maps, flowcharts, process maps etc. This used to be an app outside of 365 and an additional cost but has been brought into the fold and is now part of the suite. Visio has lots of templates to get you started, or you can start from scratch.

If you want to learn more about ways to help your team to work together more safely and efficiently off-site, why not book a slot for a free discussion with me here

Microsoft Office 365: More apps that can make a difference

Microsoft Office 365: More apps that can make a difference

Following on from our recent look at the sheer range of applications for business within the Microsoft 365 environment, we will continue by looking at some of the household names. The apps that everyone will be familiar with, along with one or two of the fascinating supporting cast. The little-known ones you might not know as well but which can help your business perform at its best.

Office staple apps

Word and Excel combined to form the backbone of most people’s needs when it comes to Microsoft Office. They are familiar, comfortable and intuitive to use. However, they can still surprise us occasionally.

Many users don’t realise that Word can be a powerhouse tool for collaboration. The Co-Authoring feature allows users to work on documents stored in SharePoint or Onedrive with anyone, anywhere. Simply by clicking on the share icon and adding the email addresses of the people they want to work with, users can collaborate on documents in real time.

Without a doubt, Excel is the ‘go-to’ app for anyone working with spreadsheets.

The ‘smart lookup’ function is just one of Microsoft 365 features. Right-clicking on word and selecting the smart lookup function launches Bing. Bing then searchs the internet for information on whatever is highlighted.

Communication apps

Microsoft 365 has a range of inter-connecting communication apps; Teams, Outlook and Yammer to name the essentials.

Outlook has everything we need to do business. Most things can be done from your inbox simply by selecting the drop-down menu in the Outlook inbox. From there, contacts can be added, appointments scheduled, and emails assigned to specific days just by dragging them onto the calendar icon.

Yammer is, for many, the ideal way to add private, secure social media to their business. Users can connect, engage and share thoughts and ideas across their business. Therefore, staying informed and creating a sense of community and sharing resources or simply saying thanks.

Think of it as similar to your business’ own private Twitter network.

Discovery

Delve is accessed through a browser. It’s a cloud-based platform ideal for remote working across an array of devices and forms a valuable hub for users and colleagues. Invaluable for files, collaboration or even enterprise networking.

Delve can fill the user’s space with things they might find helpful. It also allows users to search and choose their content. Delve keeps those things private by default, only sharing the desired content and resources.

Tracking user data and overseeing efficiency and productivity are vital parts of a successful team. MyAnalytics gives a detailed overview of the time spent performing different tasks, hours worked, and things such as attending meetings or working late.

Reports and dashboards give essential insights into business processes, team configurations and business productivity with a powerful automation tool helping to place focus right where it’s needed.

Presentations

Teaching, making compelling proposals and pitching ideas are all possible with PowerPoint, with rich presentations that look great with little need for expertise or specialised knowledge. Users even have the potential to add audio to slides, such as voiceovers, effects or soundtracks.

Sway is a niche app for many, but it allows users to create content-rich, visually appealing designs for reports, web pages and newsletters. Content can be dragged in from various sources, and users can even add forms, slideshows or image stacks for viewers to click through like a retro photo pile.

Sharing video content safely and securely for learning, presenting, and meetings is easy with Stream. It has the potential to become an organisation’s very own video hub. At a time when so many rely on remote solutions, Stream is one of the most useful.

To discover how you could utilise Microsoft better in your business, why not book a slot for a free discussion with me here?

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Microsoft 365: Apps for remote working

Microsoft 365: Apps for remote working

With so much of the business world working remotely now and probably beyond the foreseeable future, some things have become more challenging.

One of the most obvious is the challenge companies have faced in ensuring their teams have all the hardware they need to work effectively from home. The second is ensuring they are up to speed on using the apps and services that make up the software side of things too.

Many of us are familiar with Microsoft 365 and aware of the benefits the right features can deliver. As a consultant and ex-virtual assistant, I am well used to collaborating with teams off-site. I have been using various tools within the 365 environment for a long time.

When it comes to productivity, security and user-friendliness, here are some of the best ‘once used, forever relied upon’ 365 applications that empower users to work safely and securely from home.

Microsoft 365 OneNote

OneNote is a personal information management application with all the functionality you need at your fingertips (or stylus). You can organise notes exactly how you need to, share them and sync them with other devices.

OneNote even has the valuable ability to translate text. The Translate feature has the potential to be incredibly useful for businesses in multilingual markets.

Microsoft 365 OneDrive

As compliance laws around data become more robust and the need for remote access grows, OneDrive delivers a secure, effective solution that works.

With an impressive amount of cloud-based storage available on 365, OneDrive provides users all the space they’ll ever need to store and share files and collaborate with the people they need to, even on mobile devices.

Files are synced in real-time, and thanks to features such as SSL encryption and Personal Vault. You can rest assured they are always safe. Users can set up password protection for shared files and folders and, if any account is compromised, there is a restore option to roll back the entire drive to any previous date within the last thirty days.

Microsoft 365 Teams

Teams have become a vital part of the 365 environments in a world where many are now working remotely. Much like its competitors, such as Zoom and Hangouts, it has gone from occasional use to essential business tools in recent times.

One-on-one conversations, group messages, video and audio calls are all vital features of Teams, along with game-changing integration into other 365 applications such as Word, Outlook and SharePoint.

Microsoft 365 Planner

Managing teams and projects can prove impossible when the team itself is spread far and wide. Planner delivers a centralised hub for every one of them; to share files safely, make plans, oversee progress and assign and organise tasks to other users.

The big selling point of Planner over similar task management apps is 365 integration.  Microsoft 365 Planner has all the efficiency for which the 365 ecosystem is well known and works together with other 365 features like Outlook, SharePoint and Teams.

Its interface is intuitive and paired back but still shows all the information users need on projects completed and those in progress.

Microsoft 365 To Do

Task management and productivity are both significant parts of keeping professional and personal lives balanced and organised. Microsoft 365 To Do is a simple app designed to make both easier and merge them if needed.

Available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, To Do helps users monitor outstanding tasks and tick them off when needed. It’s also cloud-based and conveniently synched on any connected device.

To Do focuses on the individual user; tasks can be arranged into handy lists or grouped to be completed simultaneously. The useful ‘My Day’ function allows users to focus on essential tasks on any pre-determined day.

To Do also integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Planner to keep users up to date on tasks or events they are a part of. It has the potential to organise both personal and professional tasks in one incredibly convenient place.

This blog is part 1 in a series of 3. Check here for more apps that make a difference and lesser-known apps.

If you are thinking about ways to empower your team to work safer and more efficiently off-site, or if you want to learn more about the right Microsoft 365 tools for you, why not book a slot for a free discussion with me here.