by Penny Garbus, co-author of ‘Mining New Gold — Managing Your Business Data“
Every day, businesses across the country hum along efficiently, their operations supported by enormous reams of data that most employees – and bosses – take for granted.
Need to check inventory? Want to make sure a customer paid a bill? That information and much more is stored somewhere in a computer, always at the ready in time of need.
Except when it’s not.
Sometimes things go awry – a hacker, a system crash – that cause a business to lose critical data, and that can be devastating to the bottom line. Worst-case scenario: The business goes out of business.
If you’re a business owner and you’ve not thought of data in relation to your financial well-being, don’t feel bad; you’re not alone. Sometimes people are so busy running their businesses that they don’t have time to worry about the bits and bytes of their data and how relevant it is to longevity of their business.
But they should. Without data protection processes and procedures in place, the business could face serious consequences.
Data is like gold: It can be traded, it’s the base for creation of products, and if you lose it, you lose money.
Here are just three ways in which a failure to secure data can prove costly to a business:
1. Impact on sales.
A sales team may be so dependent on data to do its job that a breach could mean sales goals aren’t met. That in turn affects the bottom line of the company. The longer it takes to reconstruct the data, the more money is lost.
2. Lawsuits and fines.
Sometimes regulatory agencies require that certain records be kept. If a business loses that information, it could face potential fines or lawsuits.
Lawsuits and regulatory agencies can make your life a nightmare if you fail to understand, develop and follow processes that protected regulated data. Customers also could sue if a system malfunction causes a business to fail to live up to a contract.
On occasion, malicious hackers infect your computers with software that blocks access to everything until you pay a ransom. The ransoms are usually $1,000 and most companies pay the money. Unfortunately, even paying a ransom is no guarantee a company’s data will be freed because on occasion the perpetrators demand even more money. The situation can get even worse.
Sometimes the attacker has so completely destroyed data files and infected hard drives that they are unable to get the data back. The cost can run into thousands or even millions of dollars to get the company up and running again.
Any business that hasn’t already done so should begin a self-analysis to design data protection processes and procedures. You need to define your needs and then talk with your IT staff to ensure that the data recovery and protection strategies match those needs.
But remember that this is not an insurmountable problem. If you take the right steps you can save yourself a lot of costs and headaches down the road.
Penny Garbus, co-founder of Soaring Eagle Consulting Inc., is co-author of “Mining New Gold — Managing Your Business Data“. She has been working in the data-management field since leaving college when she worked as a data entry clerk for Pitney Bowes Credit. She later ran the training and marketing department of Northern Lights Software.