A business becoming “data driven” is a widespread trend. According to research by Foundry, 68% of organizations have data-driven projects deployed, in implementation, or planned within 12 months. This notion positions an organization as being able to make better, more informed decisions, leverage data to create better experiences, new products, and improve its overall business.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. In order to actually put that data to work, organizations must preserve privacy and ensure data security or face penalties and regulations.

Beauty brand Sephora has the dubious distinction of being the first company fined for violating the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Instagram was fined more than $400 million in Ireland for misusing children’s data. Pending regulation in Indonesia, includes the possibility of jail time for data operators that misuse information.

All this puts an emphasis on why every organization needs to rethink its approach to security, governance, privacy and compliance. Too few organizations are truly prioritizing these concepts as they rush to utilize and monetize their data assets.

Let’s dig deeper into what this process looks like for larger and smaller organizations, how a data security governance strategy can improve that stature, and ultimately how it can lead to better business outcomes and user experiences.

Weeding through compliance requirements

Organizations need to have consistency across all data operations and heterogeneous data systems in use, but many attempt to keep up with compliance requirements manually lacking a holistic, consistent security and governance framework at scale.

Let’s say you have personal identifiable information (PII) in a certain on-premises database. You need to be able to enforce policies that protect that data, especially if that database is shared by different business groups. You can't just give global permission to everyone in your organization. Marketing data, sales data and user data, for example, are all going to be used differently by different teams. Each team’s purpose should define their privileges to access that data.

This particular business challenge exacerbates with the explosion of data volumes, shapes of data structured and unstructured, and deployment models from hosted on-premises and hybrid to multi-cloud environments.

And in addition, regional regulations further complicate an organization's ability to globally set security and access policies and enforce them. Finally, different systems have disparate ways to define security, governance and policies, so a universal approach to compliance seems hard to fathom for many.

Creating a global security and governance framework

It’s intimidating to get started with organizing data, creating access policies, and enforcing them. According to a report from Ocient, 97% of organizations expect their data to “grow fast or very fast” over the next five years and the top concern (63%) among them is maintaining security and compliance. 

Data security governance strategies help tackle this issue.

The first step is to discover all the data an organization has and ensure you properly classify it in the first place. The discovery and classifications must include all data assets regardless of their location and shape of data. Once data are classified, to meet compliance and security requirements, certain PII and sensitive data fields might need to be individually encrypted. Then, the right access policies are required to ensure that the personnel with the right privileges can only access the data needed to accomplish their tasks. Cybersecurity teams need to have fine-grained access controls based on persona, so no user has overly broad permissions to access the data. As IT security leaders build this framework, they need to make sure that all compliance policies are enforced not only at scale but also in a consistent, transparent and audit-proof way.

When an organization starts scaling to terabytes and petabytes of data, it’s incredibly difficult or impossible to do this manually. You don’t have to go that journey alone. Creating a data security governance strategy is crucial for every chief data officer, chief privacy officer and CIO. The shared responsibility requires a common understanding of how data is stored, accessed, processed and made available to multiple parties and entities — internally as well as externally. An all encompassing data governance and security framework will allow continuous compliance audits as well as strict data access monitoring at scale.

Improving business outcomes in real time

A comprehensive governance and security strategy is paramount for monetizing your data assets as well as improving your existing products or building new experiences. The common nominator is utilizing data, and oftentimes this requires combining with different datasets made available by other parties or numerous heterogeneous data sources. 

Take a big brand like Nike, for example. It collects data from applications on smart devices, but it needs to be transformed into valuable insights to offer better products and services. Without a governance strategy that ensures compliance with end-user security and privacy requirements in mind, Nike cannot actually utilize all of the collected data to improve the customer experience.

The quicker your organization can ingest data and secure it, the faster data engineers, data analysts or data scientists can translate the available datasets into actionable insights for businesses. With a scalable strategy of preserving privacy and security, one can tap into new markets which were out of reach due to the strict compliance requirements.

If a security function tries to create a patchwork of security and governance manually or as an afterthought, it may take weeks or months before relevant data is usable and available. This assumes you haven’t made any mistakes along the arduous — manual — journey. If it can’t be consumed for that long, the data has become dated. This won’t be acceptable in a shifting data world with the need to respond in real time, within seconds or minutes.

Compliance regulations, the need for a strong security posture, and data privacy are only increasing in the coming years to come. Your most valuable security feature is the ability to secure and govern your valuable data assets at scale. Modern, data-centric organizations have started to invest into a comprehensive, built-in, scalable data security and governance strategy as a response.