Data is one of your greatest assets—second only to your workforce. But like an expensive and complicated new gadget without a user manual, your data is only as valuable as your ability to use it.
Did you know the data universe is expected to double in size every two years? As a business leader, this statistic should be both exciting and alarming. If you don’t figure out how to effectively manage the mounting data within your organization now, matters will only get worse. And failing to keep up with this data could cost you its value as well as your edge over competitors.
Ready for the Catch-22? The purpose of data management is to make your information easier to access. But the more accessible your data, the more susceptible it becomes to internal and external threats. So how can modern businesses make the most of big data while keeping it safe?
Here are seven tips for managing your big data that will help you strike a balance between utilization and protection:
1. Know What Data You Have
Step No. 1 to better managing your data is gaining a complete understanding of what data you have. Conduct an audit of all the data your organization holds, much like you would with tangible assets. You should also clean house and properly dispose of data you don’t need.
2. Create Clear, Consistent Guidelines
Your organization needs a roadmap for data management—a written policy that leaves nothing to question about how data will be used. These guidelines should indicate how records will be separated from routine documents, organized, stored, shared and disposed of (if applicable).
3. Keep Policies and Systems Up-to-Date
Technology is evolving at a blinding pace to better secure data and support greater efficiency. If your policies and systems aren’t keeping up, your data faces an increased security risk. For these reasons, investing in newer workplace software and regularly assessing policies to ensure they align with compliancy standards is critical. Governing bodies are becoming less forgiving about data breaches that could have been prevented with proactive care, and increasing fines reflect this stance.
4. Train Your Staff
Did you know the majority of data breaches are the result of human error? You can invest in the absolute best securities and systems on the market, but if your staff doesn’t know how to properly use these solutions, your data management efforts will be a waste. If you’re investing in the hardware and software required to manage data, take the time to properly train your staff.
Note: Training isn’t a one-time deal. Policies and procedures are constantly changing to keep up with evolving technology and growing data sets. Organizations should create routine training to ensure their staff stays ahead of the curve.
5. Assign Ownership
The more data you have, the harder it becomes to manage. Consider assigning specific data sets to individual senior managers, and task them with its organization and control. Be clear about what you expect, and request routine reports from each data owner to ensure they’re taking all necessary precautions and meeting standards.
6. Be Scrupulous About Security
Whatever container holds your information, it must be secure and accessible from both a physical and logistical standpoint. That means using the right layers of security to protect data at all levels, including:
- An enterprise firewall
- Spam filtering
- Malware scanning
- BYOD policy (to control mobile access points)
Review your security measures regularly to ensure they are kept up-to-date and compliant with industry standards. It’s also important to pay attention to less obvious threats like humidity, fire, extreme cold and natural disasters. And always have a data backup and disaster recovery plan in place.
Finally, don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can trust every employee on staff. According to a Forrester survey, 25 percent of respondents admitted their data breach was the result of a malicious insider. Set up permission controls and only allow employees access to the data they require to perform their jobs.
7. Use the Right Software
Ultimately, the level of automation you are able to incorporate into your data management strategy will determine the competitiveness of your organization. Workplace management software is the best way to collect, organize and manage data sets relevant to your workspace without hours of manual input and analysis.
The right software will also generate reports that enable you to glean high-level information without extensive leg work, thus freeing data owners and facility managers to focus on other more pressing responsibilities.
The key to managing your big data is consistency—a simple, repeatable process for organizing, storing and using your information. Because data is always growing and changing, your strategy must be adaptable, and your data managing software must be future-proof. With the proper tools and training in place, your organization can learn to harness the power of big data.
Ready to learn more about properly utilizing and protecting your workspace and the assets it contains? Get a free copy of our guide, 4 Ways Innovative Leaders Stay Ahead of the Technology Curve.