Today, enterprises have access to more data than ever before. Depending on the nature of their business, they may know a number of personal details about their customers including their full name, date of birth, credit card number, and health data. In addition, some companies may also have the ability to track customer behaviors on their websites and applications, using that information to create personalized experiences and craft tailored messaging.
Having access to this data is often a key enabler to the business. It ensures that the company can deliver products and services effectively to customers, streamlining interactions and offering better experiences. However, because this data is so sensitive in nature — and because everyone has a right to privacy — enterprises have an important responsibility to keep that data safe.
Today, this responsibility is mandated by government regulations (e.g. GDPR and CCPA) and industry standards (e.g. SOC 2 and ISO), and enterprises have no real choice but to ensure they are compliant. And as enterprises have prioritized security and privacy within their systems and processes, they expect their vendors to do the same. It’s not worth investing a lot of time and effort to ensure your enterprise is compliant only to have your data compromised as a result of working with a software provider that isn’t as serious about protecting data.
For SaaS providers serving enterprises, this means that undertaking compliance programs and deploying robust security strategies can be a key differentiator. In other words, building trust through the sales process and proving compliance is more important than ever.
While the need for security and privacy measures is clear, the industry has been slow to adopt all the right measures because they can be expensive transformations and it’s hard to get leadership buy-in on the value of security. However, the risk of non-compliance is more significant.
Companies that don’t properly secure their data leave themselves vulnerable to attacks by cyber criminals who might then leverage their customer data by selling it on the dark web, committing fraud, or conducting more targeted attacks on their individual customers. The cost of such an attack is exponentially larger than running a compliance program. Not only is it expensive to remedy the vulnerabilities that led to the attack, there’s also a reputational cost as customers lose trust and opt for competitors instead. This is also a risk for enterprise vendors that store, manage, or handle customer data for their clients.
These concerns also apply to government bodies that handle extremely sensitive information both for agencies and citizens. Imagine the impact of a federal revenue agency being breached, for example.
It can be easy for software vendors to see compliance efforts as an administrative burden, but the truth is that they can offer a number of real benefits. For example, just from achieving compliance with SOC 2 or other industry regulations, companies can:
Improve their security posture. The SOC 2 certification process, for instance, encourages companies to set up robust and comprehensive security policies. It also inspires companies to create a culture of security within their organization, promoting alignment across teams and employees.
Simplify the sales process: In order to ascertain how robust a vendor’s security processes are, enterprise and government procurement teams have long, complex questionnaires. To answer them, sales reps typically have to ask for support from security team members and other specialists, taking them away from their core tasks. A recognized compliance report typically removes the need for a questionnaire as the documentation and any policies that were established as part of the program offer enough evidence.
Build trust with their prospects. Having the seal of approval from a recognized industry or government compliance process is a great way to automatically foster trust with your potential customers. It immediately raises the standard, putting your company in contention for a contract.
Establish reliable documentation. Recording your security policies and processes is a great way to prepare your company for enterprise procurement processes, but it also better positions you for future financial projects like a merger, acquisition, or new round of VC funding.
Today, enterprises can’t afford to not have robust security and privacy measures that keep their data secure and encourage trust with customers. Software vendors that want to work with enterprises thus have a responsibility to show up with the same commitment to security. Compliance with recognized standards is a great way to start, and shows that you’re committed to building partnerships that are founded on a spirit of security.
We’ve written a lot about compliance and security and how sales teams can leverage these efforts. Learn more on the blog.