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SME data essentials pilot

Final evaluation

The purpose of piloting is to test feasibility, learn how to operationalise a policy, how to overcome implementation barriers, and how to improve processes and outcomes. The SME Data Essentials (DE) Pilot has certainly proved successful in achieving this purpose. The Pilot has achieved much success in terms of impact, and revealed a range of learnings around design and implementation, all of which will prove significantly valuable for considerations around future phases of the SME DE Project.


Annex A presents analysis of the profile and characteristics of the Pilot’s participants based on the information captured by the ICO at sign-up. As discussed in the main report, 2,945 invitation emails were sent to data protection (DP) fee payers.

Annex B explores the feedback surveys for modules 1-2, 3-4, 5-8, and 9-11. These were sent out between 9 September and 30 November 2022, with responses accepted until 16 December 2022.

Analysis of the final feedback survey responses is presented in Annex C.

Annex D focuses on the 35 organisations who either had been shortlisted for the Pilot after expressing an interest and did not activate their account, or had activated their account but did not complete any modules.

SME research

In 2021, the ICO commissioned Harris Interactive to undertake baseline market research to help improve its understanding of small and medium-sized businesses. The main aim was to better understand the motivations and barriers for registration and data protection compliance and identify how and where the ICO should target its communications.

Satisfaction with Best Practice Audits research

In the summer of 2017, the ICO commissioned new, independent research on the effectiveness of its Best Practice Audits and Advisory Visits.

A total of 56 organisations which had been audited in 2015 and 2016 were surveyed by research firm BDCR. The aim was to help establish whether the ICO was delivering an appropriate level of service and to identify areas for improvement to inform future development.