Ours truly is the information age. Now more than ever, companies live and die not only on the strength of their data, but also on its application. In other words, it’s not just about collecting the right data in the right quantities, but it’s also about managing, storing, and using that data properly.
Yes, Big Data may well be a company’s most potent asset, but only if business leaders and decision-makers are prepared to address and overcome the challenges that arise when working with Big Data. This article provides best practices for doing just that.
Collecting the “Right” Data
One of the first and most significant challenges you will need to overcome when working with data involves knowing how to determine what is relevant, reliable, and useful and what is not. After all, the digital revolution has put a seemingly infinite quantity of data literally at our fingertips.
When used strategically and judiciously, that immensity brings great success, enabling business leaders to develop prompt and effective evidence-based solutions to ever-evolving operating environments. However, when you don’t have a plan for collecting, parsing, and analyzing data, you can quickly become overwhelmed and paralyzed, at best.
And, at worst, using irrelevant, unreliable, or poorly analyzed data can lead you to make bad business decisions. It can lead to operating strategies and business models that have no real utility for your target customers, market conditions, or the core mission of your organization.
This is why, when it comes to working with Big Data, the first order of business should be to recruit a data specialist. You will want to leverage the unique talents of someone with expertise in gathering information, evaluating its quality and relevance, and then translating that credible and relevant data into illuminating and actionable information.
Protecting Against Data Loss
Another significant challenge when working with Big Data is the ever-present risk of data loss. The loss of critical business data doesn’t just deprive your company of the essential information. Data loss may also subject your organization to substantial financial losses and legal liability— not to mention the profound damage your brand is likely to suffer as a result.
To help safeguard your data, a robust data governance policy is essential. At a minimum, strong data governance should ensure that access to sensitive business data is rigorously controlled and strictly limited to authorized personnel who require access to the data in order to perform their job duties.
The good news is that new tech innovations are making it easier than ever to ensure that data access policies are consistently and reliably maintained. Governance automation tools, for instance, help to control and regulate data access based on the individual user’s needs and permissions status. The result is a significant reduction in the risk of data loss through thrift, fraud, or other forms of data breach.
The Challenge of Storage and Management
Human beings now have more access to information than ever before in human history. And this information can be acquired at a speed that was unimaginable just a decade ago. But all that data has to be put somewhere, and that leads to another critical issue inherent in working with Big Data.
Storage of such massive volumes of information in a manner that is at once secure, well-organized, and functional requires a tremendous allocation of resources. Physical documents, of course, would consume untenable amounts of geographic space, but digital data also take up space.
Many companies, even large enterprises, just cannot support the technological infrastructure required to store, manage, and retrieve the millions of data points that may be used over the span of a company’s existence.
In addition, centralized, internal storage, such as in a physical data center, puts a company’s data at risk should some kind of catastrophic failure occur. If the equipment is damaged or stolen, or if the internal network goes down, access to the stored data is lost and business operations, more likely than not, will grind to a halt, at least temporarily.
This is where cloud-based data management comes in. By storing your business data securely in the cloud, you’re reducing the financial and technological outlay that would be required with internal data storage solutions. At the same time, you are expanding the utility of the data insofar as the data can be accessed at any time and from anywhere, provided that the end-user has the appropriate permissions.
Additionally, the decentralization of data storage through cloud-based management means that you’re eliminating the risk of precious records being lost, perhaps irretrievably, should an internal storage system be damaged or destroyed.
Big Data is perhaps a company’s most valuable asset. However, working with Big Data is not always easy. Understanding the challenges associated with Big Data is critical to overcoming them. This includes formulating effective protocols for overcoming issues related to data quality and analysis, data security and loss prevention, and data storage and management.