As recently as a few years ago, organizations were forced to make a choice when it came to their data strategy: tilt toward the defensive or offensive side of the data strategy scale. “Defensive” meant focusing on protecting data from threats and the potential for leaks and theft. Companies in industries that were more regulated – finance, healthcare, energy – had to lean more heavily to the defensive side. Due to the government and industry regulations they were subject to, they were forced to focus more on risk reduction and to place strong protections around data to avoid fines and sanctions. Data governance required guardrails around use of data, limiting the ability to extract insights and value.
On the other side, an “offensive” approach meant mining data to improve and grow the business. Without regulatory constraints or industry-specific controls, companies in industries like consumer goods or tech could have a free-for-all with data. They could gather it, store it, share it within departments, across business units, and with third-party partners. They could utilize data to improve operations, create more innovative products, produce targeted customer offers, create happier customers, and gain a competitive edge. In order to get the most value from data, very few protections were placed on data access or sharing. With limited resources, companies were driven to find a trade-off between offensive and defensive data strategies, between agility and governance, between being data driven and being compliant, between growing revenue and reducing risk.
Today, the environment has changed: data protection regulations have expanded while data-driven enterprises are pulling ahead of the competition. Organizations must get value from data in order to keep up, but not at the cost of regulatory fines and breaches. The good news is that technology has changed too, and companies don’t have to choose between data protection and business success. In fact, cloud-based technology actually allows companies to utilize data protection to enhance the value of data. It’s a balancing act no longer: organizations utilizing a great defense will find it enables the best offense.
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