Data Minimization – Why It Is Essential for Your Organization
To say that modern business is data-driven is to say that water is wet, the sky is blue, and the sun is hot. It’s obvious. Data is the lifeblood of today’s enterprise. Whether it’s customer data, operational information, competitor insights, or product development, organizations today live and breathe off of the insights provided by their data. The ability to generate content with greater efficiency and complexity is at a level greater than any time in human history and it’s only going to grow.
While the power to generate and accumulate data is at an all-time high, the need to store, manage, and refine data is also at its historical peak. Storing and using data costs money in tangible and intangible ways. The legality of what data can be stored and for how long is an ever-growing and complicated business consideration. So, while the ability to generate data is of great concern to most organizations, of similar concern needs to be how that data is managed and disposed of properly. This is the world of data minimization.
Straightforwardly, Data minimization is the practice of collecting, processing and storing only the data that is strictly necessary for the intended purpose. It involves identifying and retaining only the most relevant and essential pieces of information while discarding or avoiding the collection of excess data. This process includes curating your data so that only what is important remains and also cleaning out common enemies of clean data: ROT. ROT stands for Redundant, Obsolete, and Trivial: the three most common culprits of data run amok.
But is it really that important? Sure, having a clean data set seems generally good for business but is it really worth the time and effort? Not only is it worth it, but in many ways, it’s our responsibility as good businesses to practice data minimization. Let’s look at some reasons why:
- Information Security: Securing data is on everyone’s mind. From ransomware attacks to accidental data exposure, concern over securing organizational information grows increasingly more complicated. Simply put, the more data you’re storing, the higher the risk of a data breach. By appropriately minimizing the data stored by your organization, you have less to secure, less to oversee, and ultimately, less data to worry about.
- Compliance and Regulations: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe started a wave of regulation regarding data privacy that has expanded across the world. As of late 2023, at least 13 states in the U.S. have enacted their own privacy laws dictating how data should be stored, by whom, and for how long. Not only are the penalties for violations massive but the damage to an organization’s reputation could be irreversible. As a result, the need for proactive data management by minimizing the data legally required is critical.
- Storage Costs: As storage solutions expanded and the ability to grow our data stores expanded along with it, businesses got into the mindset of storing everything because “storage is cheap”. Time has taught us that’s not the case, especially as we find ourselves moving more and more infrastructure to the cloud. Excess storage of data has tangible (recurring fees) and intangible (security risk, obsolete/inaccurate data) consequences. Data minimization keeps costs down in many ways, not just monthly expenses.
- Optimizes Decision-Making: Effective data management leads to more accurate and reliable analysis. Too much data, on the other hand, makes it hard to extract insight from information and can often lead to making decisions based on outdated or unimportant material. By being able to focus on the most valid, relevant information, quicker and more informed decisions can be made.
- Customer Trust: As mentioned earlier, poor data management can irreparably harm your organization’s reputation. Consumers want to know that their data is being handled in a responsible manner. By demonstrating a commitment to data minimization practices, we show our customers that we prioritize their privacy and safety. This builds trust and better relationships which naturally benefits the long-term success of the business.
Those are just some of the ways that effective data management through minimization can positively affect the success of your business, but that begs the question: HOW? Organizations of all sizes easily collect data into the tens, hundreds, or even thousands of terabytes (and beyond). Ultimately, we need powerful tools that let us collect and analyze metadata across our ecosystem of unstructured data, interact with others as we make decisions on the value and future of that data, and ultimately to act on those decisions. This is why we’ve built the iCONECT Data Governance suite of tools: to help organizations of all sizes tackle the challenge of effectively organizing and cleaning their unstructured data.
The iCONECT Data Governance platform is a versatile, customizable platform that expands to the needs of the organization. Whether you’re a Fortune 100 or a small to medium enterprise, iCONECT is designed to help you get a handle on your data with AI-enhanced scanning and processing of your unstructured data, unmatched collaboration, and review capability, and customizable actionability for deleting, archiving, and management. To find out more about how iCONECT can help you tackle your data ecosystem, contact us for more information.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jonathan Younie, Product Manager, Data Governance – LINKEDIN PROFILE
As an information systems management professional with over 25 years’ experience, Jonathan oversees the iCONECT Data Governance program. Throughout his career, Jonathan has been responsible for oversight of organizations’ entire data, network, and software engineering landscape with a focus on information security. In his most recent role as CTO and CISO for Ramsey Quantitative Systems, Inc. (RQSI), a quantitative investment firm, Jonathan has been responsible for planning and overseeing the development of the company’s internal software systems, network infrastructure, disaster recovery, and business continuity, as well as ensuring the safety of the organization’s intellectual property. Jonathan brings an extensive understanding of organizational data needs to the iCONECT team and plays a key role in helping our clients find opportunities to manage and control their data so they can focus on driving productivity and progress. He has been in professional computer engineering and information systems management for over 25 years and possesses more than 15 technology certifications in the software, network, and security engineering fields, as well as technical training certifications.