Is Your data: Secure – Backed-up – Compliant – Private – Clean?
By Lucy Thorpe
Data is increasingly important to businesses of all sizes – it is the core of today’s digitized economy, constantly increasing in volume and value. Not only is it at the center of everything that we do, it can also lead to new insights and opportunities. But how many companies are looking after it properly?
Our advice is to treat your data like gold; store it safely, use it wisely and keep it clean – then hopefully like gold, it will increase in value.
So when it comes to looking after your data, here are the top 5 considerations we think you should have in mind.
Security is obviously your number one concern – which is why we advise storing your data digitally in a system designed for business. “It is surprising how many businesses use Excel spreadsheets or even paper,” says Caroline Atkinson founder of In Cloud Solutions. “There are much better ways of doing things.” Even the most basic ERPs have inbuilt security features and tools to help them keep data safe and compliant. For quick access, and secure back up Caroline suggests importing your data into an in-memory analytics database.
Some people are worried that today’s cutting-edge business software is based in the cloud – even though this is now the most cost-efficient way of doing things. Caroline Atkinson suggests you turn to your software provider for answers,
“You need to be sure that the security of your data is maintained by your provider and they should be able to give you assurances and details of the measures they have taken to protect the information you have shared with them.”
Ask about back-ups while you are at it, as most cloud software backs-up automatically, cutting your risk of losing your data dramatically. Caroline Atkinson says; “the business software we work with, SAP Business ByDesign, backs up continually – in the worst case scenario you would only ever lose the last 2 hours.”
Data privacy is another issue at the top of most people’s agendas, mainly because of the publicity around GDPR – the new European data protection law. The law is pretty much common sense but here in a nutshell is what you have to do to stay compliant.
- Ensure that all data is processed in a lawful and transparent manner
- Collect data only for specific, explicit purposes
- Maintain an accurate collection of up to date data
- Hold data for the necessary time needed, and no longer
- Use secure data processing methods
It takes time to build up your data base and you know how much it’s worth so don’t take risks. When data is stored in a business system like an ERP you can set levels of privacy so that staff only have access to the data they need to do their jobs. But do remember to change an employee’s access privileges immediately if they move jobs or leave.
Clean data makes everyone’s life easier. Good information in the right format and without duplicates will allow you to interrogate it without glitches and put it to work helping you gain insights into your business. It is particularly important if you want to;
- Migrate to a new system. Changing to a new system is a great opportunity to review your existing data and correct any errors, obtain missing data and cull duplicates or totally obsolete entries. Why clutter up your brand-new ERP with junk?
- Make use of machine learning and automation. Machine learning requires a great deal of high-quality data. If it has been collected, cleansed, and stored well then there will be plenty of data available to create meaningful and useful predictive models.
With great data the sky’s the limit. You can really get cracking on making the most of new technologies, like machine learning to automate tasks – freeing your human resources to do the more interesting high value work. It’s a winning scenario all round.
Lucy Thorpe is a former BBC journalist and is now chief content creator at In Cloud Solutions, a UK software company working with SAP solutions. They provide ERP for fast growing small and medium sized companies across multiple sectors including financial and professional services, manufacturing, wholesale and distribution and life sciences. For more on how to pick cloud ERP you can contact In Cloud Solutions.