The sheer volume of data available online today is staggering. With internet usage increasing by 7.5% annually and more than 3.5 billion people having access to the internet in 2017, researchers have estimated that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are transmitted online every day.

Through a combination of membership forms, search engines, social media profiles and tracking software such as cookies, businesses have a myriad of ways to tap into this wealth of data. Regardless of the industry or field, big data is available and, in turn, useful to any business looking to increase its revenue. For example, if you look at Apple, it uses around 14 different data collection methods to refine its products, target ads and drive the company forward.

You Need Purpose and Direction for Your Data

However, the collection of data is useless if it doesn’t have a purpose or direction. At Apple, after collecting and collating data regarding a user’s name, age, face (using new face scan technology), location and more, it uses it in the following ways:

  • Service consultancy
  • The integration of multiple accounts
  • Personalised content
  • Target advertising
  • Third-party information exchange

Essentially, when Apple collects data, it does so for specific reasons. In order to satisfy those reasons, however, the company must have efficient data discovery protocols in place for two main reasons: data classification and data security. As we’ve said, the internet is literally flooded with information every day and for a company to make use of the data it collects and not fall foul of data protection laws, it needs to have a data discovery system in place.

For instance, Einstein Data Discovery software uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning to analyse millions of datasets and collate them into meaningful chunks of data. In simple terms, data discovery is a way of filtering your data results in order to arrange and, therefore, identify the information you need within a large and potentially unconnected set of facts and figures. For any emerging business, this really is the important thing to note when it comes to big data. It’s also really important to have robust measures in place when it comes to data protection, so working with someone like a DPO service consultancy could really benefit both you and your customers (plus, depending on your business, a DPO may be a legal requirement).

Protect Your Business by Connecting the Dots

Sure, it’s great having access to a myriad of details, but if you can’t connect the dots between them, you’ll never be able to monitor what you’re collecting or make use of it. Moreover, you’ll never be able to protect what you got. When it comes data security 101 for businesses, you need adequate data discovery methods in place to protect against various infiltration and destruction threats. Instances of system hacks are on the up and you need a way to protect the information you hold.

Indeed, this notion was no more apparent than during the 2017 US Presidential election race when Hillary Clinton’s emails were exposed to the masses. With hackers able to do this to a senior figure such as Clinton, it’s easy to see why a small business without the proper protocols in place would be easy pickings. For those that implement the principles of data discovery, it’s possible to apply context-sensitive security controls, disaster recovery and context-sensitive monitoring and audits.

Through these benefits, you can better protect the information you have stored and, in turn, protect yourself against data loss that can lead to prosecution. Moving into 2018 and beyond, there’s never been a better time for businesses wanting to know more about their customers. However, without following the correct procedures, it’s easy to get swept away by this wave of data and end up drowning your business in the process.