Whether or not you've heeded the siren song of big data, you probably know that data is becoming increasingly valuable. Even if you don't know the first thing about big data, you probably have some sense that you need to protect your company and your customers from unscrupulous people who would use valuable information for their own purposes. I don't believe it's an overstatement when I say that the chief concern of every company's data management strategy should be security.
But what do you need to secure?
What data matters?
How do you go about making sure you collect, use and store data legally and safely?
Here are some suggestions for where to start.
1. Make sure you're complying with GDPR.
Did you happen to notice earlier this summer that pretty much every website you visited asked you to review their data collection policy and opt in if you wanted to access information?
The quick explanation is that Europe has a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that ensures its citizens understand and explicitly consent to the collection of their data by websites. Though the regulations don't actually cover citizens who don't hail from Europe, companies all over the world updated their data management strategy to adhere to GDPR standards.
Basically, you need to make sure that if your website is collecting data from visitors, you're obtaining consent, keeping that information secure and using it only for previously disclosed purposes.
You may want to consider periodically reviewing regulations for data collection to ensure you're always in compliance with any new regulation.
2. Prevent theft or leaks of client data.
In addition to simply wanting to be responsible, you so don't want to be the company that failed to adequately protect client data from unscrupulous folks. Not only can the publicity be bad for your business in the short term—such a breach can erode public trust in your company. And that can be difficult to recover from.
If it weren't enough that your brand might suffer, your company could also be on the hook for measures you have to pay for in order to protect your clients once a breach occurs.
Think about the expense of paying for credit monitoring services for your entire client list. Surely that money is better spent securing data rather than cleaning up a mess if you fail to secure it.
A good data management strategy is intended to head off problems.
3. Ensure your data is relevant, timely and accurate.
Maybe you've heard about the wonderful things you can do with predictive analytics—using big data to guide your future decisions. It can be helpful, but only if you're using good data.
After all, you wouldn't want to base your December 2018 purchasing decisions on records from February 2013. A sound data management strategy includes ensuring that any data you use to guide decisions is fresh, relevant and accurate.
4. Get your financial stuff locked down.
Your customers' data matters, but so does yours!
Make sure that any financial institutions, lenders and vendors you do business with have implemented adequate security measures. You can check in periodically to ensure your financial data isn't at risk.
Data management strategy isn't just about machines and software. It also includes people! A frequently overlooked aspect of a data management strategy is keeping track of who inside your company has access to sensitive data. Make sure passwords are changed regularly—and immediately if an employee with access leaves your company.
5. Plan for the worst.
It may sound extreme, but I've learned over and over just how valuable it is to be prepared in case something goes terribly wrong. Part of risk analysis and mitigation is having a plan in place when you're faced with a problem, and when it comes to your data management strategy, that means preparing for a breach or theft of information.
Who would you contact? How would you remedy the situation? What would your statement be to your clients?
If you take the time to collect the information you'll need ahead of time, your crisis mode can be less panicked and more deliberate.
Even if you have no plans for sophisticated predictive analytics, that doesn't mean you should blow off a data management strategy. You and your clients have valuable information, and as a business owner, protecting that data is one of your obligations.
Read more articles on cybersecurity.