Companies are already leveraging big data to help grow their businesses and automate their processes, with everything from tracking the buyer’s journey to improving the customer experience. But handling large amounts of data can be cumbersome and open businesses up to hacking vulnerabilities and liabilities.
And the issue is widespread; according to reporting from Marketing Week, one in four businesses are unprepared for dealing with new data laws.
Running a data-driven business requires a solid data governance process to keep your business safe while improving your bottom line. Without data governance, you’re not only leaving your data unprotected, but your business isn’t running efficiently or productively, either. Here’s how data governance can impact your business for the better.
What is Data Governance?
Data governance involves the overall management of your business’s data, and how it’s accessed and used while maintaining its integrity and security. When businesses set up a comprehensive data governance policy, they create guidelines to maintain data management and safety with consideration to any regulatory laws.
Data governance can help protect your business, but also helps streamline your business’s efficiency. In order to keep this type of program running smoothly while adhering to best practices, it needs consistent oversight. A data governance program should have a council that oversees progress to ensure it’s being executed properly.
Restrict Data to Avoid Hacking
One of the first steps in data governance is knowing who has access to your data and who should be cut off from it. Employ a data governance process to restrict data only to necessary users. This can also help you avoid data vulnerability and keep hackers from infiltrating your systems.
Examine which employees have access to your data and what they’re using it for. Remember to comb through your files to see if any former employees still have data access. To make sure no one slips through the cracks, your IT team should have authority to revoke access to data and files or wipe a work device remotely to help control access.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for former employees whose data access was never monitored or restricted to hack into your system for profit. A former employee of Tufts Health Plan pleaded guilty to stealing sensitive information and successfully collecting social security benefits and receiving fraudulent income tax refunds.
Ensure Compliance with Regulations and Laws
Keeping your data organized is just one reason data governance is important. But depending on your industry and how you’re collecting data and storing it, you may be liable for compliance under HIPAA or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and face serious consequences for neglecting regulations and laws.
It can be difficult for even a seasoned business owner to really understand the changing landscape of data regulations. It requires a level of commitment and knowledge to keep track of new information and figure out how to apply it. A third-party service offering data governance can help ensure you stay compliant by following the latest rules and regulations so your data is protected, and customers view you as a serious business.
Improve Clarity to Gain Trust
A study by Label Insight found that 94% of consumers are likely to be loyal to and trust a brand that offers complete transparency.
There’s only so much transparency you can provide by sharing information about your products. You also need to be transparent about why and how you’re collecting customer information, and most importantly, what you’re doing to protect it.
That’s why your data collection tools need to be appropriately configured to create clarity and trust in your business. Make training your team an integral part of your data collection process. Ensure all of your data collection processes are set to align with specific goals for data transparency and reliability.
Avoid Data Duplication
Although less serious than data rules and safety, managing data organization and duplication is an important part of running a business smoothly. Setting up a sound data governance process does more than just help you avoid data duplication. It can also save you time and money in hunting down the appropriate data and getting it into the right hands to move your sales process forward.
There’s also another side to data duplication to consider: when data is stored in the cloud, companies can harness it to get real-time business insights. Data backups allow businesses to analyze data and see patterns, but it’s also an enormous undertaking to manage and organize the process. Data governance can help set safety parameters and define the processes needed to safely duplicate data and determine its purposes.
Automate Your Processes
You can also reduce or completely eliminate time-consuming processes by automating them. Investigate which sets of data can be automated and which areas of your business are the most time-consuming.
You can automate everything from the inventory and ordering process to how you pre-screen job candidates. For example, a business can rely on data automation to automatically place an order of popular products during particular seasons so that the highest-demand inventory is always on hand. Businesses can look to see which products aren’t moving as quickly and use data governance to find ways to bundle them together with popular items.
Use Data to Retain More Customers
Your past and current customers are more likely to buy from you than new ones. According to an acquisition vs. retention infographic on Sailthru, existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more than new customers. However, you need carefully-curated data that can be easily accessed and analyzed to figure out how to best serve them.
Use your data to improve the customer experience and retain more customers at the same time. For example, if you see that your customers are likely to cancel their subscription plan in the third month, automatically offer an upgrade or upsell them to a year-long package at a discounted price.
Create More Consistency
When your team isn’t using the same up-to-date and highly accurate data, problems ensue in your business. Your CEO and CFO should draw the same conclusions from the data they’re using for the health of your company. After all, you can’t make sound business decisions and decide whether to invest or where to appropriate your funds if your executives are using different data.
This is especially important if you’re running multiple businesses or have locations across the globe that need to share data. Individual storage tools weren’t necessarily designed to accommodate an ever-growing body of data and keep up with various rules and regulations. Data governance can create a process where everyone has the same consistent information, and will ensure its accuracy and integrity.
Protect Your Data Backups
The security of your data often hinges on the reliability of your backups. To keep your data safe and compliant, ensure that your data backup process is sound and that data can be quickly restored. It’s also crucial to frequently test your backup and restoration process to ensure the quality of your storage.
Human error, misconfigurations, and hardware failures are all culprits in data restoration and backup failures. The impact of a malicious hack can also be reduced with data backups in place. When a hacker takes over your device with ransomware, a sound backup can restore the data you need to keep your business running as you resolve the attack.
Strengthen Your ROI
Businesses may not think about how data governance should be rolled into their ROI, but it can impact the ability to save money and generate more revenue at the same time. We’ve already talked about how data governance reduces negative data duplication practices and helps you find the data you need.
However, data governance can also collect information on what your customers are doing and what motivates them to turn into a lead or buy. Once you have a clearer understanding of what your customers want, you can shape your marketing materials to find like-minded customers and convert more leads.
Data governance is no longer an optional part of running a business. It’s a necessary process to build a solid foundation for your business that can withstand changing trends in how you use your data. At the end of the day, no matter how your data is repurposed, it needs a sound data governance process to keep it well organized, safe, and easily accessible when you need it.
How has data governance impacted your business? Let us know by leaving a comment below: