Data Ownership vs. Data Stewardship: It’s Time to Evolve Your Data Mindset


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Data is fueling digital transformation. It provides endless opportunities for growth and progress for your organization—but it also brings a lot of challenges. Threats are increasing in number and sophistication. Consumers are demanding better privacy. Governments are cracking down on non-compliance. Ignoring these challenges could put your organization at risk. 

This evolving landscape calls for a modern, proactive approach to data management. At FormAssembly, we believe that means evolving your mindset from data ownership to one of data stewardship. 

Data ownership: An outdated, risky approach

Your organization is likely handling a lot of sensitive data—financial information, social security numbers, health information, and more. A data ownership mindset is one in which an organization treats the data that they receive from customers, employees, vendors, and partners as if it is theirs to own. While this data is vital to running your organization, this mindset could lead members of your organization to be careless with their data management and usage.

This attitude puts your organization at risk—not only for a breach but also with regard to your customer relationships. 

Data stewardship: Protecting your organization and your customers

Your organization has a responsibility to the person who shared the data in the first place. Data stewardship is a proactive approach that encompasses best practices concerning the collection, use, and confidentiality of personal information. 

There are five core tenets of data stewardship:

  • Fairness: The methods you use to collect data need to be fair. Your data collection processes should include informed consent and avoid deceptive design practices. 
  • Transparency: You must clearly communicate how you plan to use the data, whether it will be shared with third parties, and how individuals can exercise their rights to opt out, withdraw consent, etc. 
  • Relevancy: Your organization must restrict the data you collect to that which is necessary in relation to the purposes for which it is collected. 
  • Lawfulness: Your data collection processes must comply with any state, federal, and international laws as well as any industry regulations that are relevant to your organization. 
  • Security: Your organization must implement strict security policies: extensive employee training, limiting access to data, practicing diligence when sharing data with vendors, and obtaining cyber insurance. 

>>Whitepaper: Understanding the Importance of Data Stewardship<<

We believe that this approach provides the best possible protection for your organization and your customers. Practicing proper data stewardship gives you an offensive strategy instead of playing defense when those inevitable threats arise. 

Why data stewardship is key to FormAssembly’s mission 

FormAssembly’s mission is to help organizations collect, use, and be good stewards of the personal data entrusted to them.

Data stewardship is a core part of our company culture. All FormAssembly employees go through extensive security training on a regular basis. While we help our customers collect data, we do not have access to it. We are PCI DSS Level 1 Certified and our policies, procedures, and standards reference best practices of ISO, FFIEC, GLBA, HIPAA, PCI DSS, NIST, NYDFS, and Privacy Act 1988.

Data stewardship isn’t just an internal mission for us at FormAssembly—we also believe in helping our customers practice proper data stewardship with our solution. FormAssembly offers a data collection platform that is compliant with HIPAA, GDPR, CCPA, GLBA, and is FedRAMP Ready. With FormAssembly, you can securely collect data and connect it to Salesforce, payment connectors, and other business applications. You can also use FormAssembly to make sure you aren’t collecting data you already have. 

Interested in learning more about data stewardship? Join FormAssembly CEO Cedric Savareseat 2 p.m. on Monday, October 17, 2022 for our webinar, “Why It’s Time to Evolve from Data Ownership to Data Stewardship: A Conversation with FormAssembly’s CEO.” 

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