Microsoft Cites GDPR Switch as Major Partner Opportunity

  • Complete Microsoft Inspire 2017 coverage here.

With the European Union preparing to overhaul its data privacy laws next year, Microsoft is urging its partners to take advantage of the opportunity as customers grapple with the changes.

At the company's Inspire 2017 partner conference on Wednesday, Microsoft Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith took the keynote stage to discuss the repercussions of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is shaping up to be the first significant revamp of the EU's aging data privacy laws in two decades.

Scheduled to take effect on May 25, 2018, the GDPR's stated mission is to "harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy."

Though the GDPR is an EU law, Smith pointed out during his keynote that it has implications for any companies that have customers, employees and businesses in Europe, no matter where they're based. While the GDPR applies to residents within EU member states, it also applies if their information is used outside those states.

"This is spreading around the world," Smith said.

The GDPR "means that there are going to be enhanced privacy rights for people, and that's a good thing," he added. "It means that we and the entire industry are going to have a greater duty to protect data. And by the way, for our customers and ourselves, there will be greater penalties if we fall short."

Microsoft has shared some of the steps it has taken to ensure that its cloud services are GDPR-compliant. Smith reiterated those steps during his talk, saying that Microsoft employs over 300 engineers who are tasked with creating a companywide data privacy architecture.

For partners, Smith said there is opportunity for them to help their customers assess their own GDPR-readiness, including determining what applicable data they possess and what steps they need to do to protect that data. Helping companies achieve GDPR compliance presents a $3.5 billion opportunity for partners, according to an IDC study oft-cited by Microsoft.

To that end, Smith announced the release of several GDPR resources for Microsoft partners, including readiness-assessment tools. They're summarized in this Wednesday blog post by Diana Pallais, director of Office 365 partner marketing at Microsoft:

"Security and Compliance Playbook - To help partners evaluate a practice development investment and kick start the effort.

"GDPR Assessment - Questions and guidance to help partners have the right conversations during the prospecting phase of a sales engagement.

"GDPR Detailed Assessment - Extended set of questions and actionable guidance to help partners deliver assessment workshops and formulate statements of work to earn their customers’ confidence and business.

"GDPR Product Demos - Tools for partners to demonstrate how the Microsoft cloud helps customers comply with the GDPR.

"GDPR Activity Hub - A solution accelerator tool that helps partners operationalize GDPR related processes and activities."

These resources are available at Microsoft's partner-centric GDPR page here.

About the Author

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.