Big data = big opportunity

Big data, big protection

June 04, 2014

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Big Data – intelligent analysis of masses of different types of data – can translate into big profits. Improved customer insight can enable personalised sales and marketing, while big data analytics can drive better product development.

Unlocking the value of data can reveal all sorts of useful insights, but businesses need to keep a close eye on the legal ramifications of using data for purposes for which it may not have been collected or allowing data to cross borders. As more and more data is stored, from social media interactions to location information, on personal devices and in the cloud, increasingly smart analytics may be used – with care.

Data of different types is variously subject to data protection law, payment card data law (PCI-DSS), copyright and intellectual property law including patents and trademarks, and employment law that affects employee data.

There is no doubt about the benefits of big data. Harnessing big data could contribute £216 billion to the UK economy and stimulate 58,000 new jobs between 2012 and 2017 according to a study by The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). These figures largely come from successful new businesses setting up as a result of the more precise planning possible through data analytics.

Efficiency gains may also contribute a cumulative benefit of £149.5 billion by 2017 with better customer intelligence delivering £73.8 billion and supply chain improvements contributing £45.9 billion. And applying big data analytics to research and development (R&D) is predicted to help drive new products and services as well as the potential creation of new markets contributing £24.1 billion to the UK economy by 2017.

Yet businesses that fall foul of the law in the rush to mine big data could pay a heavy penalty. A proposed update to the EU Data Protection Directive (Directive 95/46/EC) calls for fines of up to 5% of turnover for losing or misusing personal data.

3 starting points for Big Data protection:

1. Secure all your data, all the time. The cost of security breaches for all type of organisations has increased and 10% of organisations that suffered a breach in the last year were so badly damaged by the attack that they had to change the nature of their business according to the Department for Business, Industry and Skills (BIS) ‘Information Security Breaches Survey 2014’, conducted by PWC.

2. Know where all your data is coming from and going to. Where is new data coming from, where is it stored and who are you sharing it with? Amalgamating data sourced from different countries in the name of analytics must take account of the laws of each country.

3. Seek and destroy. What is the organisation doing to identify and destroy obsolete data? Personal data may only be held for appropriate purposes and not kept any longer than necessary.