In one of my earlier Columns, I introduced some thoughts on innovation and its importance to every business. In these challenging times that are facing many Chamber members, I am revisiting that subject.
Innovation is a topic that is close to me through the major impact it can have on business success. It is an area of my business that I carefully monitor. In my industry, significant innovations continue to be made in many areas. One such example is lighting systems that incorporate LEDs. They make an interesting case study.
Typically, an LED light lasts many times longer than a traditional system. Importantly they offer energy savings of above 75%. In warehouses, distribution centres and offices, for example, they effectively replace metal halide and sodium low bay and flood light fixtures, providing optimum light output.
For many the introduction alone of simple LEDs has been a major development. In fact, the innovations haven’t stopped at that point. SMART lighting is now taking LED lighting to a new level. By integrating controls into LED lamps, energy efficiencies and cost savings can be multiplied several times.
In the latest systems, manufacturers are exploiting the inherent controllability of LED technology by integrating LED lamps and luminaries into SMART building technologies. Motion sensors enable lights to only be operated when activated by personnel in that area of the office or warehouse.
This example succinctly illustrates how innovation in the development and application of a new technology has made significant strides in just a few years. The pipeline of these innovations continues to show the level of inventiveness of major manufacturers and suppliers. My advice is to research all new technical developments to investigate if they will open new markets and expand your customer base.
At a recent meeting, a member asked me about a technical development that he had discovered from his own market research. He was interested in exploiting this new innovation. However, he was concerned that the process of development had been underway for several months; and so he had missed his opportunity.
I mentioned the LED case study. Then, I suggested that the continuing rate of innovation would enable him and his company to benefit from offering it to his clients. There should indeed be commercial opportunities for him to benefit as further innovation could be expected in the next few months.
In business, we are often faced with changing legislation. One of the latest is The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
With the continuing growth in the digital economy and increased volumes of exchanges of personal data, this new legislation for the protection of personal data, comes into effect on 25 May 2018.
The delivery of services and content on the internet is often linked to the collection of information about users and their habits and preferences. These developments have led to the need to strengthen the rights of individuals and for the protection of personal data online.
Data privacy has become a key priority for businesses and individuals alike. According to consultants Capgemini, 74% of UK SMEs had a security breach in 2016.
On one point of clarity, and despite the vote to leave the EU, UK businesses must continue to work towards GDPR compliance. It is not only good business practice, but the legislation applies to all businesses working within the EU and with EU data.
Punitive fines can be and will be levied on those companies, who fail to meet the new regulations.
In summary, when the GDPR comes into effect next May, businesses must:
- Keep a record of data operations and activities.
- Review if the required data processing agreements are in place.
- Carry out privacy impact assessments (PIAs) on products and systems.
- If applicable, designate a Data Protection Officer (DPO).
- Review processes for the collection of personal data.
- Be aware of your duty to notify the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) of any data breach within 72 hours.
- Implement “privacy by design” and “privacy by default” in the design of new products; and assess whether existing products meet GDPR standards.
Your Chamber recently received advice on the GDPR with the strong recommendation that all businesses should now begin their review processes in order to meet the deadline of 25 May 2018.
For more information: contact, ICO – www.ico.org.uk - Helpline 0303 123 1113 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
Specific information on GDPR from ICO - http://bit.ly/2uw9Fop
I welcome feedback and comment on this column and the work and activities of the Chamber. You can contact me at [email protected]
President of Burton and District Chamber of Commerce
Managing Director, Yee Group Limited