Ever since Big Data emerged in the late 1990s we’ve been fascinated by the promise of digging through large data sets. What gems will we find?
Practically speaking, CIOs have built careers on this quest. Connecting mountains of data, configuring complex analytics systems and delivering shiny reports to the boardroom.
There’s only one problem, business leaders still don’t have rock-solid confidence in this story. The issue is a risky practice called data sharing. The idea is a good one. Sharing data among business partners will potentially create value, insights and help your organisation grow. That would be fine if data security wasn’t the big deal breaker.
Directors, CEOs, CSOs, CIOs and risk managers are right on the money. Why should they endorse a data sharing project when it puts the security of customer data at risk? Answer: They shouldn’t!
This issue alone is one of the biggest brakes on corporate growth and national productivity. And it’s about to get worse.
The Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme, which took effect on February 22, makes it mandatory for businesses to alert customers of security breaches.
If your organisation has existing personal information security obligations under the Australian Privacy Act, you no longer have the luxury of deciding whether or not you’ll make public a data breach involving your organisation.
Worse still, companies face the possibilities of civil penalties and hefty fines for failing to comply with the notification requirements.
So, does that mean you should walk away from the decades-old promise of data collaboration? Should you stop digging through the proverbial river for gems?
No, not if you want your company to grow and thrive. Consider the organisations on MIT Technology Review’s list of top 50 Smartest Companies. They didn’t rise to dominate their respective markets on the basis of gut feel.
Look at the top three: Nvidia, SpaceX, and Amazon. Each one is applying deep insights gained from a treasure-trove of data. And is that data secure? You bet. Just think what impact a massive data breach would have on Amazon’s share price.
What’s the way forward then?
One of the reasons I’ve moved to the startup world at IXUP after a career at tech giants such as SAP and Oracle is that I believe it’s time we changed the way we think about gaining insights from data.
Sharing data just is not secure or sustainable. There’s too many risks when you literally hand over precious customer data and operational insights to a third party in the name of collaboration.
Once it’s left the building, who controls and secures that data? Not you, that’s for sure.
The term I want to see used in the boardrooms now is data collaboration. This idea matters. Data collaboration is when a software environment lets multiple parties collaborate securely without sharing.
Each collaborator retains control of their data at all times. The data is not stored and never made available to any of the participants, only the matches and insights resulting from the collaboration are revealed, but only if the owner of the data allows that to occur.
The widespread adoption of data collaboration techniques, I believe, will be a game changer in the boardroom.
It’s time we stopped thinking that mining your databases in isolated silos will grow your business. And it’s definitely time we stopped handing over our data to “trusted” third parties. That’s just another data security headache to worry about.
It’s still early days, but the NDB is the tipping point and there’s no going back. Instead, the benefits of collaboration beckon: unearthing hidden insights, enriching the value of your data and pursuing innovation with the confidence of data security.
Maybe data collaboration, as we see it, means the promise of big data isn’t such a dilemma after all.
Tim Ebbeck is executive chairman at IXUP.