Data is like DNA. It’s billions of pieces of information that make us who we are; telling the world what we look like, what we enjoy and what we want. As such, organisations far and wide are itching to get hold of this information to better appeal to end-users and customers; through relevant products and services, content and rewards. Data adds huge value to companies and national economies. It sits at the heart of modern business success and economic development.
But just like DNA, data is fragile. About a thousand times a day, something happens to DNA to cause errors. The same can be said of data, it’s being accessed throughout the day by people (and computers) – across devices, locations, and access credentials – who make changes (and often errors) when reading, writing and creating it.
The likeness doesn’t stop there, there are several considerations for business leaders to be aware of:
- Firstly, data is often inherited. Like DNA, data is often passed down from one CIO to another – a complex legacy of information to connect and care for. The challenge comes from what to do with this data, understanding the wider context of data sovereignty, legislation and internal policy.
- Like DNA’s twisted ladder formation, storage infrastructures are often an intertwined, intricate and interconnected balance of cloud and physical storage, with accompanying hardware and software. New technologies – from cloud computing to machine learning – are increasing the complexity of our systems, meaning that teams are expanding, policies are evolving, and outsourcing has become commonplace.
- There are both internal and external factors that impact our DNA – from everyday activities to light. The same can be said for data. Across the enterprise, risk comes from the processes that allow users to take data freely, from users who share it haphazardly, and from external agents who want access to it.
- Complexity and confusion result in a lack of understanding of the intricacies involved in data protection and management. Just as most of us don’t even know what DNA stands for, similarly we aren’t aware of what goes on behind the scenes with data storage.
Regardless of an organisation’s infrastructure or set-up there is one constant – data. Data sits at the core of business operations. Just as DNA is the body’s instruction manual, data is an organisation’s blueprint, providing the foundations of everything from business processes to customer insights. It is therefore critical for organisations to understand their data DNA – including its history, structure and its risks – in order to store, leverage, secure and protect it. I call this, our data DNA.
With the explosion of data, the advancement of enterprise architecture and the rise of cyberthreats, data is at its all-time-high in terms of risk. And, while we don’t all have to become experts, business leaders must understand the core attributes of their data DNA in order to best store, protect, and leverage it effectively.