by Carol Vercellino, CEO of Oak City Labs
To thrive in a customer-centric world, businesses need to know not just how to collect data but how to manage it. Data management is your startup’s practice of collecting, keeping, and using data.
When managed well, you can use data to tailor your content, products, and services to your audience and gain a massive competitive advantage.
When we consult our software development clients on their data management practices, we like to focus on three main areas as we help them build their data management program:
- Data Integrity
- Data Accessibility
- Data Security
Data Management for Startups
Step 1: Protect Your Data’s Integrity
Data integrity is the accuracy, completeness, and reliability of data throughout its lifecycle. The integrity of your data is critical in regards to regulatory compliance, security, and your company’s reputation.
There’s an assortment of factors that could affect the integrity of your data, but a few examples include: human error, transfer errors – or when data is transferred from one database to another – bugs and viruses, and compromised hardware.
You can reduce or eliminate the risks to your data’s integrity by doing the following:
- Backing up your data
- Validating your data when it’s gathered and when it’s used
- Logging when data has been added, modified, or deleted
- Conducting regular, internal audits
- Using error detection software
- And, most importantly, creating a single source of truth
A single source of truth is the process of storing and structuring all your data in one master location for editing, referencing, and analyzing. Many businesses, especially those who have been around for 20-30 years, have data scattered everywhere. Aggregating your data in one central location can help you maintain data integrity and optimize it to better your business.
Step 2: Choose Who Has Access to Your Data
Accessibility also plays an important role in data management and integrity. You want to create an environment where data is tightly protected but flexibly used. So, as you develop your infrastructure and select tools for data storage and visualization, consider these 3 questions:
• Where is your data stored?
• Who needs access to your data?
• And how do you want to use it?
Choose a data warehouse or tool that can give you flexible options for permitting or restricting access.
We recommend limiting full access to your data to only the people who need to add, delete, or modify the information.
You can use data visualization tools, like Tableau or Microsoft Power BI, for team members who only need to view specific data sets in order to improve customer experiences or operational procedures. This also eliminates the frustration of staring at an Excel spreadsheet with 60,000 rows.
Step 3: Secure Your Data
Finally, with data management, you want to make sure all your data is locked up. This goes for every company – no matter how much or what kind of data you collect.
For example, let’s say you’re in a market that has a consumer-oriented app, and you have email addresses for your users. If you’re like most people, you don’t often think about securing email addresses like you might secure private health information in a health or wellness app.
But email addresses are something hackers want. So, you want to make sure all your data – even small bits of personal information like an email address – is protected from cyber-attacks.
Focusing on your data integrity and accessibility contributes to your data security practices. But, you’ll also want to create documentation that details your data management process and implement company-wide training to instill data security as a priority in your company’s culture.
You can use this level of security as a competitive advantage for your customers. Let your customers know what steps you take to secure their information.
Treat Data as a Valuable Resource
With data management, your goal is to treat data as if it’s a valuable resource and focus on bringing all your data together to make better decisions for your customers and business.
Focus on these three high-level points – Integrity, Accessibility, and Security – as you develop your product or project, and you can build customer relationships and drive long-term revenue growth.
Want to learn more about how to secure your data in the cloud? Read our article, Is Your Data ‘Really’ Secure in the Cloud?