SOC 2 Compliance: Are You Just Checking Boxes or Adding Value to Your Business?

August 18, 2021

SOC 2 compliance opens up new markets. It helps SaaS companies stand out in a crowd. It gives you an edge over competitors without it.

Sure, all things being equal, the discerning customer will choose the SaaS product with the more rigorous certification. But how much does the general public care about information security, really? Is there a genuine passion for information security and these certifications or examinations?

Actually, yes. SOC 2 really does make customers stand up and take notice. The people demand, but mainly, expect exceptional security. But the what – getting SOC 2 certified – is only half the question. You also need to consider how you implement SOC 2. Because the way a business manages SOC 2 and their information security in general ultimately affects the quality of the organization. Are these organizations simply thinking about ticking the box regarding security standards or are they putting in enormous effort to actually develop the best of the best security systems and practices?

If you’re just focused on spreadsheets and audit documents, you are going down the road of just “ticking boxes”.

The data speaks for itself

Let’s begin with some statistics. According to a recent IBM report, data breaches cost companies an average of $4.24 million per breach. That’s the highest cost per incident since the report began. And then you have the costs you can’t immediately quantify. Major firms like Sony, Wells Fargo and Equifax are still dealing with the reputational fallout of inadequate information security. 

As the IBM report makes clear, new ways of working due to the pandemic created new vulnerabilities. And of course, where there are vulnerabilities, there are bad actors waiting to take advantage of those vulnerabilities.

So managers are fighting an information security war on two fronts: new ways of working make their systems increasingly vulnerable, and the costs of a data breach are steadily increasing. 

And it’s not just specialists that are worried. The real world implications of data security are all over the news. Imagine paying $2.3 million in bitcoin just to keep your business running. Or more dramatically, hospitals being immobilized by hackers (especially when the attack could have been prevented with fundamental cybersecurity protocols in place).

Using SOC 2 to really set yourself apart

But now I want to throw a spanner in the works. I’m going to suggest the renewed public interest in information security means that security certification is necessary, but it may not be enough. These days, it’s the least customers are looking for, not everything they’re looking for.

A commitment to information security should therefore be the starting point for any SaaS provider. Not the end goal. 

SOC 2 is a rigorous standard that customers expect. And it should be clear that it’s worth the extra effort. But are you leveraging the demands of SOC 2 compliance to create real value in your organization? Or are you simply ticking boxes, and hoping customers will notice your effort?

SOC 2 success can lead to organizational success

In fact, SOC 2 is a great tool for enhancing your organization’s work processes. For example, SOC 2 demands effective internal lines of communication, which, implemented properly, helps you develop more effective and robust workflow and communication within an organization. 

And because SOC 2 principles are (or should be) communicated crisply and clearly to every responsible person, employees are empowered to work independently, taking initiative to solve complex problems.  

In addition, the ongoing monitoring essential to SOC 2 can help ensure every stakeholder understands both the big picture and the fine grained details. In short, you develop a much more robust and reliable service, with empowered employees who can take responsibility for their own tasks and work better as part of a group.

Automate the tedious stuff and create real value

At least, that’s the theory. In practice, actual SOC 2 implementation can get in the way of these big picture ideals. That’s why SOC 2 automation is, frankly, indispensable. Without effective SOC 2 automation tools in place, companies spend all their time trying to decipher complex spreadsheets; employees are too busy trying to get their reporting up-to-date to focus on value-adding work; and preparing for your SOC 2 audit becomes a bureaucratic nightmare.  

SOC 2 automation solves those problems. All the tedious compliance processes are handled by the technology, which enables managers to focus on building effective SOC 2-compliant organizational structures. 

It’s the best of both worlds. On the one hand, automating your SOC 2 compliance is simpler, faster and easier than trying to manage SOC 2 without digital automation. On the other hand, you can focus your energy on leveraging SOC 2 to create a more reliable and responsive company. And, ultimately, that’s what really creates value.

So while getting your SOC 2 certification may open up new markets, efficient and effective SOC 2 compliance enables you to really create the kind of business customers want to keep doing business with.

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