As business flows, deals are made and the online world continues to surge with activity, a vast amount of data finds itself traversing the cyber highway at any given moment.
This data can be invaluable if leveraged with the careful skill of an expert’s touch. From market research to product development and decision-making, data can inform, instruct and improve a broad spectrum of business processes.
There is a catch, however, in that it can be difficult to handle for those without the digital skills necessary to ensure its safety and effectiveness.
In fact, the consequences of mishandling data can be astronomically damaging. From weighty fines and legal troubles to a tattered reputation and furious customers, the loss of sensitive data often spells disaster.
To stop this fate from befalling your own business efforts, here are some data management tips to help you take better care of your data and continue to thrive in the online realm.
1. Data Management Software Solutions
The organization should be top of the list when it comes to maintaining processes and enabling their sustainability.
That said, it can be difficult to do without the right tools. By implementing a foolproof and highly accessible data management software solution into your daily processes, you may find that you and your staff have a much easier time organizing your efforts in the first place.
You may want to take a look at www.avepoint.com for an all-encompassing cloud-based solution that can help you streamline many aspects of your online endeavors, not least of all including data management.
Supplying yourself with the right platforms and services can allow you to establish strong foundations upon which to grow and nurture your online presence, without the fear of losing data.
2. Train Your Staff
While in many cases, data breaches are the result of malicious actors (cybercriminals) who are actively setting out to perform attacks on unsuspecting businesses and individuals, inside threats as a result of human error are still a large cause for concern.
For example, if your employees are not well-versed in the fundamentals of cyber safety or digital hygiene, they may accidentally mishandle data, or, in the worst instance, allow for a vulnerability in your business network, perhaps leading to a successful breach.
One of the best methods used to combat this is through education and training. The more your staff know about the perils of cybercrime, and the better equipped they are to deal with them, the greater the chance you will be able to reduce the risk of human error.
There are a few highly effective ways to offer education and training to your staff, such as in-house training days, mentorship programs, cloud-based learning, digital safety courses, and webinars, but establishing an environment that truly nurtures online safety might start with the company culture.
Developing a company culture that thrives on togetherness, online safety, autonomy, and individual responsibility should be able to help your employees to flourish.
3. Create a Contingency Plan
If you do find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to steer your company through the trials of a data breach, this does not necessarily mean the end of your entrepreneurial undertaking is near.
Putting a contingency plan in place for this eventuality can help you secure your assets and your network before any further damage is done.
Some successful breaches can remain hidden inside a company network for a long time before revealing themselves, gently siphoning away secrets in the meantime.
Utilizing breach detection methods is a way around this, and your contingency plan should look a little like this:
- Don’t panic
- Secure your assets
- Lockdown your network
- Detect and isolate the breach
- Freeze your accounts
- Contact the experts for advice and support
Paying close attention to security and safety in the process of data handling should be the number one on your agenda. Even if you never suffer the misfortune of a data breach, having a plan in place to fall back on can help put you and your employees at ease.
It is worth noting that freezing your accounts might not be completely necessary, depending on the nature of the breach, but it is certainly worth your consideration if you want to be completely safe.
4. Remove Obsolete Data
Storing large amounts of data can lead to overcrowding, slower processes, and poor organization if it is not done sufficiently.
Removing obsolete, outdated, or worthless data from your records can not only free up more space but can ensure that you improve the overall quality of your data in general.
Adjusting poor or unreliable data can take a great deal of money, particularly if it interferes with your ability to trade. Depending on the size of your business or, indeed, the amount of data you have compiled, this figure could be in the millions.
Trawling through mountains of data that is no longer relevant to your needs, and that only serves as a GDRP disaster waiting to happen, is likely not your idea of an ideal working day, or anyone’s for that matter.
5. Use Reliable Storage Methods for data management
If you have all of your data spread out across various platforms, folders, networks, and physical drives, it is likely quite difficult to know what to look for.
By using proper storage methods and having your data exist in an easily accessible location, one that your employees can reach without having to search the depths of the business network every time they need to edit a document, you can make daily online life much easier.
It is also worth thinking about who exactly has access to your data in the first place. If your network is open to all of your employees, you may inadvertently be sharing highly sensitive data with staff members who are untrained to handle it sufficiently, thus making them liable for potential data breaches.
Introducing a tiered access system might be a way around this, as could implementing a two-step authentication security system.
6. Backing Up
Keeping backups of your digital assets is essential in adding an extra layer of security to the mix. In many ways, losing files essentially means losing money and business, so endeavoring to back up your data should be among your top priorities.
Using cloud-based solutions to do this can work well, and if you want to have yourself a more solid copy of your data, opting to utilize external hard drives and flash drives alongside this may be the best way forward.
Encrypting your data is also essential, as this can keep your data safe from prying eyes should your physical devices go missing. Data encryption is good practice in general, and it is generally better to be safe than sorry, particularly when the integrity and possibly even the life of your business might be at stake.
7. Put Together a Dedicated Team
As your business grows, your needs will likely change and the amount of data you create might increase drastically.
In this regard, it may be worth putting together a specialized team whose role is to oversee the influx of data. You may already have the right staff for this job if you field a talented IT department, so it is worth thinking about bringing the topic up with them.
It can be a tough job to do on your own, and if your business is heavily oriented toward the online world, you might find that hiring dedicated staff becomes a necessity.
Outsourcing your efforts is also a great idea, particularly for those who would rather direct their time and efforts elsewhere, or save their hiring budget for a different role.
Data concerns are incredibly prevalent in the minds of many modern online users, and quite rightly. So, if the stats are anything to go by – according to Fortune, in 2021, over 280 million people have been affected by a data breach of sorts.
This is a particularly scary number, and one that may beg the question: Are businesses being responsible enough with customer data? It is important that customers trust your brand, recognize your integrity and place their faith in your ability to safely handle their data.
This does not have to be a long-winded notice (although a largely detailed explanation should be available on your website somewhere). It should be an honest and succinct declaration of your commitment to data privacy and safe online practices.
This can be immensely reassuring for your customer, and after all, they are the ones you truly need to impress.
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.