The quantification of business success was once a mere comparison between costs and profits. As analytics has grown in terms of industry importance, it’s moved from a resource to be used into a force to be managed. Equal parts helpful guidance, liability and forecast, your data needs governing and reporting structures as much as your employees do.
Treat it As a Physical Asset
If someone asked you right now where a certain company computer or vehicle is and who has access to it, chances are you could answer definitively without thinking too hard. Data shouldn’t be any different – it’s a very revealing look at the inner processes of your company, and one that could easily be used for exploitation in the wrong hands. If you’re not giving your data at least as much attention and security as your car keys, you need to reexamine your working processes for analytics within the company.
Implement Tamper-Proof Reporting
If something is designed to be foolproof, it will only produce bigger fools. Ensure your data can be taken at face value by designing and implementing a one-way system of reporting that can’t be adjusted without multiple levels of permission and observation. This is data that will ultimately be used to make company decisions or to satisfy reporting requirements at the state and federal levels, so it’s important that employees can’t be tempted to clean things up or falsify information to make themselves look better.
Build Multiple, Unconnected Storage Points
There are always a few corporate ghost stories floating around – an office that lost all their data when a cloud server went down, or a building that caught fire and took out corporate computers with no backup – that give decision-makers pause when deciding on data storage. To make things as simple as possible, determine at least two storage spaces that aren’t physically or digitally connected to one another, and schedule uploads to happen at least once a week. No matter what happens to your office, be it hackers, acts of God, or simply a power outage – you’ll be able to enjoy peace of mind knowing that your data is safe.
As business marches inexorably towards a digital horizon, the importance of data – and the security that protects and regulates it – can’t be overstated. If you aren’t sure where you stand with your data, don’t wait for a breach or reporting hole to reveal the weak points in your armor. Seek out potential issues ahead of time and reinforce them to keep your data whole and trustworthy from collection to action.
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