The importance of security in a data analytics ecosystem

For business intelligence and IT, organisations are prioritising performance. With so many businesses recognising the importance of data analytics, it’s no longer good enough to settle for a mediocre ADI that just about does the job. In order to remain competitive, businesses need to be able to ask increasingly complex questions of their data to make meaningful business decisions.

As businesses implement smarter data strategies this year, Analytical Data Infrastructure (ADI) will be a significant topic of conversation. According to the latest Global Dresner Market Study 2018 for ADI, a shift in user focus from usability has seen security and performance take centre stage.

This is certainly warranted given that the GDPR is now only a matter of months away from coming into force. From May, the storage, application and analysis of data will be strictly scrutinised. Companies need to assure that they will be fully compliant with the regulations.

Without the right tools and expertise supporting a business, the process of undoing bad data habits and implementing best practice can be a slow, expensive and disruptive process. With big data and advanced analytics, security can be actively approached to pre-empt any potential cyber threats, and ensure that businesses are always prepared. The penalties that are being enforced now will be much more severe under the GDPR and will see non-compliance fines as significant as up to €20 million (£17 million) or four per cent of global annual revenue, whichever is highest.

Rising concern around security in the finance sector is to be expected, since the financial implications of future data breaches will weigh on business leaders’ radars for years to come.

Case in point, Carphone Warehouse’s 2015 security failing made headlines again recently when it was fined £400,000 – 80 per cent of the maximum fine the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) can currently levy – for the theft of nearly three million customers’ personal data. This should be a warning sign for all businesses. Under the GDPR, this sizeable figure would rocket up to £312 million, assuming the same 80 per cent ratio of the maximum fine. For a small or medium-sized company, a fine on the same relative scale could be catastrophic, potentially bankrupting a firm.

Naturally, this fine is only one immediate impact of not adhering to the new GDPR. In the long-term, there will undoubtedly be a loss of reputation along the way that will have a direct impact on a company’s revenues. This reputation loss, regardless of how lasting it is, could have just as devastating an effect as a fine.

Improved data analytics can help to advance data security. Better analytics means that you can look into the data for trends and uncover interesting behaviour. Unusual patterns in data could be a sign of suspicious activity, which can be flagged and dealt with before it is too late. Experienced ADI vendors can help companies by providing the best analytics available to identify these irregularities. Therefore, it is important to have an ADI with the capability to identify, analyse and flag up possible security threats as fast as possible.

 

A welcome shift

Improved data and analytics can help to improve performance, enabling analysis of greater quantities of data at faster speeds. Not only will this allow businesses to gain rapid insights into their data, it will similarly enable businesses to implement changes to the performance of their business at a greater speed. In a world of businesses seeking to turn data into value, these data application changes will install a level of agility, which will help any business to be better prepared for any industry changes.

Other key implementations which show the biggest yearly increase in importance revolve around easy access to and use of analytical features and programming languages such as the use of R, Machine Learning technology and MapReduce analytics. Furthermore, whilst on-premise deployments of analytical infrastructure still lead, hybrid implementations are quickly gaining ground as the rise of cloud has seen many vendors go all in. It was also interesting to note that businesses are thinking about the future, even in a pay-as-you-grow cloud world. Scale up and scale out capabilities - including clustering, load balancing, availability and data lifecycle management – will be among the key drivers for ADI in 2018.

Price was low down on the priority list as an increasing number of businesses recognise the value that data analytics can bring. As data moves closer to the beating heart of the business, organisations are realising the value of investing in the right technology for the job. Gone are the days when business can settle for ‘good enough’. To compete in a data-driven world, the right infrastructure – with speed, performance, ease of use and scalability – is paramount.

These ordered priorities gathered in the Dresner Market Study show that we are in for another fast-paced year, with a mixture of regulatory and competitive pressures encouraging organisations to become more sophisticated and careful with their use of data. This means working with partners and platforms that can bring together disparate sources of data in order to unlock the value held by data analytics. These insights can then be used to drive business benefits and efficiencies, alongside ensuring that any data is as secure as possible.

Without a doubt, the GDPR is giving businesses a push in the right direction, prompting them to seek ways to protect their data. It is certainly a welcome shift in the right direction for businesses, the data analytics ecosystem, as well as those affected by possible security and data breaches.

Benjamin Caller, CMO of Exasol
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens