Today, it is easier than ever for organizations to collect large amounts of data across multiple channels. While data is a powerful resource, having so much data at a company’s disposal can also create significant roadblocks. For many organizations, a lack of data visibility hinders the ability to make intelligent decisions and achieve business initiatives.
Research from Transcend’s The 2022 State of Data Visibility Report found that over 60% of organizations still do not accurately keep track of the data they regularly collect. The report found that many organizations also still operate with inaccurate metrics, disconnected data systems, and manual processes.
All these challenges point to a lack of data visibility — not knowing how data is collected, where it goes, who has access, or how it is used, stored, or deleted. But while these are certainly challenges for organizations to overcome, is poor data visibility really that risky? In short, yes. Let’s look at why.
The problem with poor data visibility
A lack of data visibility has consequences that can have big impacts on organizations. Poor visibility does not simply pertain to the volume of data being collected. It also involves how an organization handles this data once in its care. It is easy for data to become disorganized, siloed, or fall through the cracks, a challenge that only becomes worse when an organization lacks any accountability for data stewardship.
Poor data visibility leads to:
- Missing data-driven opportunities
- Misguided metrics and reporting
- Bad customer experiences
- Wasted time, costs, and resources
The most concerning consequence of poor data visibility, however, is the increase in security and compliance risk. Without first closing visibility gaps to the data being collected, organizations stay at a higher risk for costly cyber incidents.
In addition to an evolving threat landscape, organizations must also address the growing challenges of remote employees, data proliferation, a lack of centralized data collection systems, and more. With so much unmonitored access to data across fragmented applications or third parties, it is difficult for organizations to enforce security policies or stay compliant.
How do organizations solve all these challenges before they turn into a serious data breach that can hinder operations and harm their reputation? The answer is with better data stewardship.
Solving data visibility risks with better data stewardship
Organizations that want to gain more value from their data, while minimizing security and compliance risks, must first create structured processes for collecting, processing, storing, and handling data. How is data being collected and from what sources? Where is sensitive data going or being stored? Who has access to data and why?
These are all questions that better data stewardship practices can help answer. Data stewardship follows five core tenets: lawfulness, fairness, transparency, relevancy, and security. By being good stewards of the data entrusted to them, organizations will gain better visibility into their data while ensuring they meet security and compliance standards.
- Lawfulness: Every organization that collects data will have to comply with at least some data privacy regulations such as GLBA, HIPAA, or GDPR. Knowing what data is collected, who has access, and where it is stored all make it easier for organizations to stay compliant.
- Fairness: Organizations that collect personal data must be responsible for following ethical policies that allow informed consent for individuals to share their information. This requires a clear understanding of why an organization is collecting data.
- Transparency: Similarly, organizations need to be clear about how they intend to use data once collected, if it will be shared with third-party entities, and how individuals can exercise their rights to their personal data. Knowing where data goes and to whom requires organizations to have visibility into these processes.
- Relevancy: Any data collected by an organization must be limited to the intended purpose. Practicing data minimization means organizations won’t have unnecessary data taking up space in a CRM or increasing the risk of being lost, misplaced, or stolen.
- Security: Organizations have a duty to ensure that any data they collected remains secure and protected while in their care. Better data visibility makes it easier for organizations to keep track of what data is sensitive, where it lives, and who has access.
Learn with FormAssembly
Interested in learning how security-conscious organizations handle data collection and processing and what it means to be a good steward of data? Learn with FormAssembly’s Chief Technology Officer Jeff Keating and Directory of Security and Compliance David Scovetta in the webinar, 5 Steps to Implement Data Stewardship at Your Organization.