The average company is up to their neck in data. In fact, the International Data Corporation, or IDC, has predicted that data production will be close to 44 ZB by the year 2020. One billion TB make up one zettabyte, so that’s a lot of data! Data collection is not simply about the amount of data being collected, but also the kind of data that companies collect as well. It has become standard for companies to capture data using the web, location, and biometric data.
With a huge increase in data collection, smaller companies are presented with a tantalizing opportunity for growth. When a company can collect and analyze trends and data, web traffic and customer preferences can give them a competitive edge in a crowded niche. This is not all good, though. As companies race to collect and analyze more data, they will often overlook many threats data may pose, which is especially harmful to a company that doesn’t have the infrastructure and resources to protect it. With company breaches becoming more common, it is imperative for companies to review their data to make sure it is properly stored for internal use and safe from hackers gaining access. Unfortunately, research shows that around 60% of company breaches are by employees rather than external hackers.
There is a difference between having big data and a lot of data. Understanding the value of data and any possible risk of a breach will help companies that are small to medium-size build their data strategies and avoid accumulating more data than needed. To create a sensible data management strategy, business stakeholders need to help build policies and procedures to govern the information.
Even if your company doesn’t have the resources to create a sensible data management strategy, there are steps that should still be taken. You can start the process by asking the following five questions:
- Does the business need the information being collected? The easiest way to keep sensitive data protected is to not have it in your possession in the first place. It is important to consider carefully how the data can help you achieve your performance objectives rather than just simply collecting it now and analyzing it later.
- Does your company have the capability to use the data effectively? You not only need to understand the value of the data, but need to evaluate if your company has the capabilities and skills to not only collect the data but to manage and analyze it. If your team is incapable of turning the data into valuable information for your company, the information will sit unused, or even misused.
- Will the public react well to your collected data and how it is used? Just because you can collect the data lawfully doesn’t mean you should. You may need to create a feedback loop with your employees to carefully weigh any potential value the data brings against any potential harm to your reputation if the public learns that you are collecting such data.
- What information needs to be protected, and at what cost? All company data should be secure, but more protection is needed if you have information such as Social Security and credit card numbers. If you lose this kind of sensitive information, your data breach could turn into a full-blown privacy failure. To keep this sensitive data protected, a company must classify the information and determine how much it will cost to keep the data safe.
- How long will your company keep sensitive data? It is rather common for a company to collect data then forget to do something with it when the business changes. The company should have a record management policy that is incorporated into their data collection plan that ensures a plan to properly dispose of information that could lead to a data breach.
In our world of technology, data is everywhere. It is important for businesses to understand what data they should be collecting and what to do with it, though. At RedWave Technology Group, your choice for IT solutions in Birmingham AL, we can help you find solutions for all your data management needs. Give us a call today at (205) 917-5757.