It seems that the issue of compliance has become a real fear factor in many of today’s boardrooms. In light of such legislation as Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), not only is there the personal risk of fines and even jail sentences, but accountability is now extending to non-executive directors.
Yet SMEs generally regard themselves as very different from large conglomerates. So are owner/managers really concerned when, for example, they see WorldCom’s Bernie Ebbers facing a possible 85-year jail term?
Indirectly, yes. The authorities will typically pick on a major company first to highlight any transgression and to ensure that the market ‘gets the message’. As a result, the concern engendered in smaller businesses is not so much “There but for the grace of God go I,” but rather, “Him today, maybe me tomorrow.”
SOX may currently be high-profile internationally, but it is just the tip of the iceberg as far as compliance is concerned. From the Data Protection Act through the Money Laundering Regulations to the National Archive, there are many generic and sector-specific regulatory bodies having an impact on the way UK companies should run their business.
Data storage is key to effective compliance. Yet developing a strategy to tackle the varying demands of the relevant regulations is no easy matter and, in many cases, more than one data-retention mechanism will be required.
In such a complex and fast-changing environment, there is no room for a ‘one size fits all’ approach. As a result, it puts a significant strain on the existing skills and knowledge base of end-user companies. This is where channel partners can provide valuable support, by helping customers understand both the specific impact of regulatory change and those technologies best suited to help with compliance.
There is a common misconception that achieving compliance is complex and costly. But the reality is that change does not have to be dramatic. It is possible to design a solution, which at Hammer we call ‘compliance enablers’. They are simple and easy to understand. Also, they do not incur huge costs.
In short, the channel can provide an easy, pain-free path through the legislative labyrinth. And, perhaps most important of all, provide a more than useful ‘stay out of jail’ card.
Paul Hickingbotham is a solutions manager at storage distributor Hammer.
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