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East Midlands Chamber News

Good data management is key to post-Covid business success, explains RDS Global cyber specialist

It’s become a bit of a cliché to say that we’re living in the information age or that data is the oil of the 21st century. But it’s true and the pandemic, with its multiple lockdowns, has amplified this truth, explains Nigel Humphreys, cyber specialist at Derby-based managed IT services provider RDS Global.

As businesses were forced to close their physical doors, the battle for customer attention and spending turned purely to the online world. The obvious strategic move was to invest in digital marketing and e-commerce functionalities, but the smart businesses will have recognised the need to invest in data management.

There are two primary parts to good data management: data protection and data utilisation. Both are vital to the success of your business post-Covid.

Data protection

When it comes to data, the most important job is to keep it safe. Another clichéd saying is that “business is built on trust”. In the digital age, where every business holds ever-increasing amounts of our customers’ most private data, this level of trust is far greater than it has ever been before.

Bad data protection management is catastrophic to a small firm’s reputation and finances. It can be a death sentence. If a good reputation is a marketing asset that positively impacts the bottom line, cyber security is one of the best marketing tools at your disposal. Invest in it like your company’s future depends on it. It just might do.

As a minimum, every SME should be Cyber Essentials-certified and promoting this to their customers. Data privacy is a key consumer concern right now – if you show your customers that you’re actively committed to protecting their vital data, they will love you for it.

Good data protection management is a contractual agreement between you and your customer that includes a bonus clause for you. The customer is giving you permission to use that data – within the boundaries of UK GDPR law – to improve your business and their experience as a customer.

Data utilisation

If good data protection management is key to survival post-Covid, good data utilisation is key to thriving as the ultimate 21st century business opportunity.

First, if you have earned the trust of your customer by protecting their data, you have earned the opportunity to utilise that data – remembering UK GDPR law – to enhance their customer experience, which will boost revenue.

Second, data utilisation is key to unlocking opportunities to make your business more productive and efficient, which will uncover cost reductions and revenue-boosting insights.

As a customer, I know that any business that has my data can easily use it to send me a gift on my birthday or quickly pull up my customer file to solve a problem or query. That stuff’s expected.

But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find a way to truly delight me and I’ll reward you handsomely for it.

Internally, I know we have an abundance of data available to us, but how can we use it to unlock efficiencies and make better strategic decisions? The answer is better data utilisation.

However, data utilisation opportunities can be difficult to engineer. Even the smallest business will utilise a variety of data sources.

Think about all the different apps, software and hardware that you use across your business. Each one is a source of data. But they won’t all use the same communication protocol – a system of rules that allow two or more entities to transmit information.

This can make it difficult to collaboratively utilise different data sources together, often leading to smaller businesses using data in silos. Real data opportunities rarely exist in silos nowadays.

Therefore, the second investment that the successful post Covid-19 business will make is in a data integration platform.

These platforms empower your business to integrate and analyse multiple sources of data together, unlocking a world of opportunities.

The good news is that there is a large choice of third-party data integration providers, such as MuleSoft, Apigee, and Oracle’s ICS. Full disclosure – even RDS Global has our own version, called the RDS BlackBox.

Is it too much to say that good data management is the business equivalent of a vaccine?

Nigel Humphreys will join RDS Global CEO Andy Flinn in a talk about Big data and cyber security: Your competitive advantage at Cyber Week on Thursday 4 March from 3-4pm. Click here for more details.

This article appears in the February 2021 issue of the Chamber's Business Network magazine. To read the online edition, click here.