Not a day goes by when the topic of data isn’t in the headlines – data breaches, big data, drowning in data, data-driven companies, etc. Yet for all this press, except when it comes to cybersecurity, the word “risk” is hardly associated with data. This makes no sense, since a lot of companies are quick to admit they poorly manage their most important data.
Coupling “risk” with just “cybersecurity” serves to de-emphasize all the facets of a business’ operations that are negatively impacted when data is unorganized, not connected and inadequately analyzed. Lots of things suffer. Consider a few examples. Mismanagement of core data will increase the risk or guarantee that:
- customer satisfaction levels decline
- opportunities are lost that should be won
- a lot of time and money is wasted chasing the wrong prospects & markets
- profitable projects mysteriously end up unprofitable
- employees tire of circumventing existing systems to get their jobs done, and morale suffers
- a reputation-damaging data breach will occur
None of these are trivial problems, and each is an unnecessary risk to take on. Annually, they represent a substantial amount of preventable cost and lost opportunities. Just as bad, the problem is a secret to nobody. Everyone in the company sees that data problems don’t ever seem to get resolved and not enough is being done about it.
The answer? A simple start is to have an outside firm look across their business and pinpoint where the real problems are. One thing this will introduce is objectivity, something critical that is lost when an internal analysis is done. Accurate self-assessments are nearly impossible to do, particularly with a complex issue like a company’s handling of its data, so they really shouldn’t even be considered.
The investment of a few thousand dollars is minor when considering the amount of insight a 2nd set of eyes will produce, some of it eye-opening. Done right, senior management will end up with a blueprint and options for fixing problems that have persisted for a long time. The company will then be in a far better position to make decisions on where to focus attention, and why.