Clashing Mandates in 2021: Fuel Data Scientists or Comply with Data Privacy?

Every enterprise strives for a more competitive position by applying a data-driven approach. Highly sought after data science teams are being tasked with finding the next-best decision, with the mandate to streamline business operations and management, as well as predict optimal next steps. Yet to do their work, data science teams require unfettered access to relevant data, as their data modeling and analysis can only be as good as the data they receive.

At the same time, the gatekeepers to the data—the IT teams in charge of managing data access—are being tasked by the privacy and governance teams to ensure legal compliance. In addition to meeting compliance, the privacy/governance teams are also looking to protect enterprise data from the multitude of external threats and fraudsters that seek to utilize data for their own nefarious purposes.

Be it identity theft, or monetary and/or political gains, organizations are left with a conflict that must be resolved to ensure adherence to the following mandates in 2021.

  • Mandate #1: Fuel Data Scientists with Data for “The Next Best Decision” 

Because strategic corporate advantage depends on data, data analytics teams will move to the forefront of all enterprises in the coming year. Their insights will become the driving factor in an organization's decision making process, and their teams will be granted the resources necessary to drive informed, competitive, corporate leadership. 

However, enterprises must grant unfettered access to data to fuel the data analytics teams and maximize their impact. When looking for new insights, these teams cannot be hamstrung by lack of data access, as the undiscovered correlations between different data sets are the golden nuggets that information teams are seeking. In turn, this exerts pressure on internal teams to share data, and IT teams will be tasked with supporting these data science teams with the right data, at the right time, as data continues to be viewed as their untapped oil. 

  • Mandate #2: IT Teams Shackle Data Access to Avoid Privacy Liabilities

Too many organizations have learned the hard way that improperly managed data can easily become an enterprises’ greatest liability. Previously, as long as personally identifiable information (PII) data such as name, contact info, race, religious beliefs, political opinions, etc., was anonymized it was considered acceptable for privacy compliance regulations. Now that it is increasingly easy to recreate an individual’s personal profile from digital data, new regulations such as LGPD regulation in Brazil—which considers anonymized data that is reversible with reasonable effort as PII—it is a new paradigm for data management. Moving forward, enterprises need to consider that ALL enterprise data has the potential for qualifying as sensitive data and will therefore fall under data governance regulations for encryption and other security measures to ensure data privacy. Because every piece of data can potentially become personally identifying data, 2021 will be THE year that data governance becomes a mainstream project for every enterprise. 

Yet, accomplishing this will require rethinking and re-evaluating existing processes and possible options—and coming up with new ways to balance these two clashing mandates. It is clear that neither Mandate #1—Fueling data scientists with data nor Mandate #2— Shackling data access to avoid privacy liabilities can become a sole winner in this conflict. This is because they both contribute to an enterprise’s long term health and viability as a company; thus, new ideas and approaches will be necessary. 

2021 Will Drive New Levels of Collaboration and Innovation to Achieve Data Security

Compounding the difficulty of balancing these two opposing mandates is the volume of data that now must be considered sensitive, and the fact that all this data may be stored and utilized in a plethora of locations; on-prem and across different cloud services. In fact, in larger organizations sensitive data can even be stored, in different geographical locations each with different government regulations. 

Data, data infrastructure, and IT teams, along with security, governance, and privacy stakeholders will all need to work together to create a new framework for managing enterprise data. This framework can be both practical for the limited resources available to manage data security and data access control, as well as being sufficiently scalable to meet enterprise-wide legal requirements. 

In 2021, the potential clash of data simultaneously being a company's greatest asset and its greatest liability will need to be proactively embraced by the entire enterprise organization. Unleashing data for data teams in a quick, efficient, and legally responsible way will pave the future for competitive differentiation and consumer confidence.