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Cheap rates alone does not make for good data management

Cheap rates alone does not make for good data management

Organisations across all sectors have quickly realised the value of data as an asset to their business. Containing valuable insights into their markets as well as ways to improve and evolve their operations, data – and the management thereof – is essential for business success.

Being so critical, it's safe to say that data curation and management should not be left in the hands of IT companies who lack experience, skills or focus. Yet more and more IT companies are breaking into data management without fully understanding it themselves, using low price bases to attract customers.

For organisations looking for data management partners, cost savings may well be an attractive offering, however they need to ensure that their bargain is backed by good value and robust security – or risk their data being vulnerable to threats.

The growing threat of data loss

Twenty, or even ten, years ago, data loss was far less prevalent than it is today. Typically stored on-site, data was only really lost when there was a disaster or accidental error. The exponential growth spread, and value of data has vastly increased its exposure to risk from all angles.

Various viruses, malware (such as ransomware) and malicious attacks on data have superseded disasters and accidental data loss as leading causes of loss of data. The sheer complexity of today's data networks, too, makes managing and keeping track of data that much harder, creating more room for error and accidental data leaks.

What does this mean for your business?

Data loss can have vastly damaging consequences. With legislations like Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act in South Africa and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, there may be crippling penalties applicable. Loss of valuable proprietary information, or data that enables business functions, processes and customer relationship management can impede an organisation's ability to operate.

There is also the damage to a business's reputation to consider. This translates to loss of customers, as well as loss of new business, and can cause a business to fail entirely.

Do we know the threat landscape?

Unfortunately for South Africa, because of the potential for reputation damage, few organisations willingly talk about any data losses they have experienced. For this reason, statistics on cyber threats are hard to come by, so most organisations remain unaware of the true threat landscape out there. This lack of awareness means that, while many organisations understand the value of their data, they fail to consider the risk to that data until they experience a data breach.

It's imperative for SA businesses to understand their data vulnerabilities, but even more importantly, to ensure their data management partner knows how to shore them up.

Choosing a data management partner

In the rush to attract data management customers, IT companies just breaking into this market may offer low prices, while not considering all the risks, and may lack the skills and expertise to truly understand how to manage your data. Price should not be the leading, or only, consideration when choosing a partner to manage your data. It's important to properly evaluate your options.

Some of these new entrants into the market are partnering with data management experts in order to provide a robust service to their customers, to ensure they are able to retain the customers their low rates attract. The partnerships ensure that they are equipped with the technical ability and understanding of data to accept and honour the responsibility of looking after their customer's data.

When evaluating prospective data management partners, look beyond price. Research their experience and reputation, checking on whether they have had reason to lose customers due to data breaches. Assess their security capabilities and make sure they are capable of securely storing, managing and curating your data. Do they have security alerts in place? Can they ensure the safety of your data no matter where it resides? Addition make sure to find out who they partner with and ascertain their partner's reputation and capabilities.

Your data management partner should be a trusted advisor. They should demonstrate that they have the ability to properly manage your data, but that they also take the time to understand your unique data needs and are able to offer a solution that matches those needs.

By Iniel Dreyer, Managing Director at Gabsten Technologies.

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