Data is your largest asset and largest risk….

But how often as a board do you discuss data? Or is something left to the IT and security teams or localised teams within a project or function?
For many years now we have been discussing the opportunity that big data represents – both with structured and unstructured data. Data analytics has become a big business but equally one that can be expensive and time consuming. Data sources are growing hour by hour and data storage is becoming a key IT decision – cost v security v availability.

At the same time data security has worldwide visibility. We have seen major security breaches or lapses whether it be in business, personal or political environments. No one can be unaware of the risk that their data has been compromised or abused since rarely a week goes by without another media story regarding Facebook or Google, Election rigging in the US or a corporate lapse such as the banks, hotel chains, and airlines have recently experienced leading to the inevitable corporate embarrassment.

So, what does this mean for you.

Firstly as a board understand the CIA of your data asset – the Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of your asset. This should drive an understanding about how your data is being managed and secured. For example how do you ensure your customer details (contacts, contracts, pricing etc) are accessible but cannot simply be taken by a leaving employee?

Then as a board take a keen interest in how you can optimise the use of your data – whether it be to make decisions, drive new investment or markets or simply to run campaigns. The more you drive data based discussions the more your organisation will value data and secure the information.

And alongside these remember the legal framework. GDPR has seen a significant increase in the penalty for getting your data management wrong.

My advice is make data a board discussion subject – understand how your asset is being managed and then how it can be used. Do not let your asset be only for the specialists.

The companies who understand their data asset, its opportunity and risks are going to be the winners.