Valuing Data

Why does data matter?

Can we measure how much data is worth? Can we measure how much someone cares about data? An idiom comes to mind “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure”, the data we throw away can be just as valuable in a world where data is the new oil (or not depending on your perspective).

Value is different for every person and every organisation. What you and your organisation value has an impact on the security of your organisation. We protect what we value.

In The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High Character Employees, Bruce Weinstein identifies our core values for individuals as: gratitude, honesty, care, presence, patience, accountability, loyalty, humility and courage. We all weight these differently depending on who we are and what we are doing. Whilst values are hard to measure quantitatively with data, it is important to think about values in relation to people, and consider how security may be affected. The values of an organisation can be considered as part of a security and data strategy to protect its most valued data.

We all value data differently, and data makes an impact to us and the work we do in many ways. How we think, act and deliver affects how we use data in order to prove or disprove hypotheses. We can create a bias in both our data selection and our data analysis and potentially, bias the results. This can affect the way a business transverses the highs and lows of a volatile environment. We all favour a certain type of data. My own preference is locational or spatial data. Some may prefer financial, others performance data, some may even like to see the production data. We can correct bias if we become aware of them. Every Data scientist works with data in a unique and subtle way. Not everyone values data in the same way as others.

Data scientists are integral to the analysis and understanding of data, but they are far from the only people affected. People in different roles in an organisation are likely to value data differently. How a decision maker e.g. the C-Suite would value data would be different to a Data Scientist. The insights in the data depend on the dataset that we select. Each role perspective alters the risk profile that is associated with the data. The knowledge of others is key to different roles across the organisation. This is because the perceived risk changes as the dataset and the role of the person who uses that data changes.

This is the reason why General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced for the EU and many organisations across Asia-Pacific are becoming GDPR compliant. This is also the reason why the UK has FOI (Freedom of Information Act) The Privacy Act and the Environmental information Regulations. This is also the reason why we have Engineering Standards around the world including the ISO8000 for Enterprise and Master Data Management and 9000 for data quality. Without these standards, data can become disorganised, corrupt, and unruly. This can be a liability. In short, governments and ruling bodies are legislating on this because data matters and the security of that data matters.

When data goes wrong

Data is often in the headlines for the wrong reasons. The Cambridge Analytica articles created an undercurrent of concern and mistrust for companies leveraging data. Revelations around election interference for some countries were also a great reminder of how much we need to value data. The use of personal, identifiable data is dangerous when used for other reasons than initially intended.
Therefore, thinking about data and the context to which others can use it for harm can make a difference. Reading data can provide insights, which predict an epic story, or an end to a story, we must always be mindful and understand the multiple data sources that may be available to us. This is why it is important to keep pry eyes away from data so that the wrong narrative or insight cannot be obtained. Consideration is the key for pre-empting a data breach.

Protecting data

On a daily basis, we leverage and use data to gain powerful insights and make key business decisions. Ensuring the security around data is at a greater level of comfort than just the security of an application would help to protect this data. An organisation needs to secure the data wherever it resides, especially if it is holding information about others and confidential information.

In conclusion, working together and leading from the heart with values and data, an organisation can have securely managed data and achieve a standard across the organisation, whilst allowing decision makers to act quickly. Do you value data like it is the heart of organisation rather than using it to run your organisation? Ensure that there is clarity in valuing data; be ready to reach out for help and assistance when it is required.

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