Your business generates data every day. Data is information, especially facts and statistics, but it can include any document a business creates. With enough of the right kind of data, you can predict the most important trends in your market.
But with great power comes great responsibility, and data represents both. As a small business, you’re a target for hackers who covet your financial and customer data. With it, they can wreak havoc. The blow to your reputation could be devastating.
That’s why you need a comprehensive data management strategy.
Data management means having the right processes and policies to:
- Collect relevant business data
- Store data as long as needed
- Keep all business data secure
What Small Business Challenges Can Data Management Help With?
No single approach can make data 100% safe. Even a computer only one person has physical access to could, in theory, be compromised. With active data management, however, you make intrusion more difficult. In the aggregate, this lowers the odds data will be stolen, misplaced, or misused.
While there are many types of data management systems, effective data management goes beyond any one system. It supports efficiency, lowers liability, and helps control overhead and costs related to data.
Some of the key challenges data management addresses are:
1. Overwhelming Amounts of Data
Data has been referred to as a “fire hose” because there’s always more of it. Every single day, as long as you are interacting with your customers or the market, you’re generating more data. With so much each day, it’s easy to lose track of which files are really the most important. With data management, you will benefit from a proven structure to manage your data – which helps keep it safer at the same time.
2. Risk of Cyber Crime
Criminals launch millions of attacks on small businesses like yours each and every day. But most of these are attacks of opportunity. They are automated, seeking out obvious and common security flaws. All of these “windows” into your business can easily be closed using the right data management methodology. You are much less likely to be targeted by a determined attack if you have the right basics in place.
3. Regulatory Compliance
In highly regulated industries like healthcare, finance, and law, regulatory compliance regularly ranks as the fastest growing cost center. All in all, there’s very little a small business can do to cut compliance as a cost – but data management helps buck the trend. By keeping sensitive data organized and secure, it becomes easier to pass audits (internal and external) and maintain necessary certifications.
4. Business Reputation
Businesses must notify affected parties when a data breach is found. It could be months between a breach happening and evidence coming to light, but proactive data management helps. The sooner you can take action, the sooner you stop reputational harm and potential legal liability. Acting quickly shows goodwill and dedication to doing things the right way.
Best Practices for Managing Small Business Data
1. Automate Data Backup and Retrieval
The most serious cyber-attack any business can absorb is a ransomware attack. Hackers encrypt your data so it is no longer accessible. Then, they offer to sell you the cryptographic key to your own files. Some institutions have been forced to pay millions. But with automated data backup, you can simply restore a recent version of any affected files – losing, at worst, just a few hours of information.
2. Apply Antivirus Patches on “Day Zero”
Every day, millions of new computer viruses make themselves known for the first time. Just like viruses in real life, many of them “evolve” as they come into contact with new hosts. For that reason, antivirus software should be updated daily, with new software patches applied automatically across your entire network. This is another area that can be automated when the right tactics are used.
3. Use a Central Endpoint Management Platform
More businesses are pivoting to a hybrid workforce where some personnel come in to the office while others work from home on any given day. This means a wide variety of devices will be accessing your network at any one time. Endpoint management refers to a software suite that ensures all devices, no matter who owns them, adhere to the security standards your administrator sets.
4. Train Your Personnel in the Basics
Most problems with technology also have a human element. Even the least tech-savvy members of your team have something to contribute to data management. By training them to avoid mistakes like writing passwords down or responding to suspicious emails, you can significantly reduce the number of possible data breaches in a year.
Not in a position to overhaul your data management? A managed IT services provider can transform your technology strategy overnight at a fraction of the cost of doing it in-house.