7 Best Practices for Managing Your Data

In today’s digital world, companies have access to a staggering amount of data. Those that leverage it to drive efficiency and growth have a significant advantage over those that don’t, as author and management consultant Geoffrey Moore pointed out:

“Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the web like deer on a freeway.”1

But to enjoy the benefits that data analytics brings, companies need to know how to collect, store, and utilise data in a secure, efficient, and cost-effective way. This makes data management of critical importance.

In this article, we’ll explain how to manage data effectively, outlining seven data management best practices you should follow to build a strategy that gives you security, compliance, and results.

1. Outline your goals 

Collecting data is one thing, but knowing what to do with it is another thing entirely. Many businesses sit on a goldmine of data but fail to properly utilise it. Others retain data that they’ll never need, leaving their data management systems crowded and disorganised in the process. 

One of the most important steps you can take is to outline the goals you want to achieve through your data. This helps you to filter the important information from the surplus or irrelevant information. 

Here are some examples of wider business goals that can underpin your data strategy:

  • Make smarter, better-informed decisions
  • Boost efficiency by streamlining and/or automating processes
  • Understand customer behaviour and trends better
  • Build smarter, more effective marketing campaigns
  • Improve employee engagement and retention

When it comes to setting your goals, you need to consider where you want your business to go and what you want it to look like moving forward. This will make the process of outlining what you want to achieve much easier. 

Once you know what you want to achieve, that’s when you can start looking at and collecting the data that can help you realise those goals and drive long-term success. 

2. Focus on security

Alongside its huge potential benefits, data collection also comes with risks. Ineffective security practices and inadequate data governance increases the likelihood of data breaches, which can be disastrous for companies, resulting in:

  • Financial losses
  • The loss of sensitive information or intellectual property
  • Damage to reputation and trust that is hard to recover from
  • Legal action from affected customers

On top of this, cyberattacks are increasing in scope and scale all the time. Just last year, ransomware attacks surged by 105%, putting businesses under increased pressure and scrutiny to protect their data.2 

At the same time, phishing remains the most common attack vector, which emphasises the need for effective security processes, training, and education at all levels of the organisation. 

To keep up with the advanced nature of cyberattacks, businesses must adopt increasingly sophisticated systems to protect their data. One such example is a multilayered security system.

By deploying multilayered systems with distinct components to protect different assets, you can ensure that there’s no single point of failure when it comes to data security. Ultimately, the aim is to ensure that any given component is protected by more than one layer of security. When combined, these layers reduce the risk of a successful cyberattack or data breach.

3. Stay compliant

Compliance is another area where businesses can’t afford to slip up, with severe financial and reputational costs for those that fail to stay in line with data protection regulations.

Like security, the compliance landscape rarely stands still for long. Since GDPR came into force in 2018, businesses that operate in the EU and UK have had much more stringent rules to adhere to around data collection, retention, and privacy. 

Staying on top of the latest compliance requirements isn’t easy, especially as regulations continue to evolve. Businesses therefore need to ensure that they have access to the right tools and have proper processes in place. 

Likewise, putting the right people in charge of compliance and ensuring that everyone understands how to handle critical and sensitive data is key. That might mean hiring in-house experts, providing additional training to existing employees or working with outside consultants.

4. Ensure quality 

With an increasing amount of data being collected across an array of platforms and systems, businesses must focus on maintaining data quality. If left unchecked, good data can become contaminated with bad, outdated, or irrelevant data. 

This can have huge repercussions for businesses that rely on data-driven processes such as analytics and automation. Poor-quality data leads to inaccurate or irrelevant insights, which can lead to poor decision-making.

There are a number of steps that businesses can take in order to ensure the quality of their data and thereby access accurate and relevant insights. This includes:

  • Regularly checking data for accuracy and relevance across different data sources
  • Purging outdated, irrelevant, or duplicate data from data management software
  • Ensuring that all staff who have access to data are trained in data collection best practices
  • Implementing tracking and tagging for web analytics to better understand statistics, get a granular view of data and group product lines and families together

5. Make data accessible 

Striking the right balance between data accessibility and security is essential for any well-run business. It’s crucial that people who need access to data can use it without having to jump through hoops.

However, this shouldn’t come at the cost of security. It’s also vital to ensure that it’s impossible for someone to access company data without the right permission.

Remember, some roles require access to only specific data sets, while others require a global view of all data. Compare the needs of a chief data officer to a customer success agent, for example. 

The best way to strike this balance is to set up access permissions based on specific roles and their data needs, rather than applying generic permissions. Industry leading tools and platforms can help with this, providing the functionality you need to manage permissions and ensure access for people who need it.

6. Utilise the right tools 

The right tools and data management software is key to establishing effective data management practices. Yet with an abundance of options available, many businesses make the wrong choices for their needs, resulting in systems that are: 

  • Far too complex to understand or use effectively
  • Unsuitable for the size or type of business — an enterprise solution being used in a startup, for example
  • Weak on security, representing a single point of failure against cyberattacks and data breaches

Comprehensive platforms hide complex data management processes under intuitive, easy-to-understand interfaces. They automatically clean and enrich data to ensure accuracy and quality. And they turn raw data into clear, actionable insights, allowing you to make smarter business decisions that drive efficiency and growth.

In short, using the best platform to store and visualise your data is crucial to success, so it’s worth utilising leading solutions like:

7. Work with experts 

Data management is a high-stakes process. The cost and implications of getting it wrong are considerable, with large-scale data breaches and cyberattacks representing an existential threat to businesses. 

On top of this, the requirements for effective and safe data management processes are constantly shifting in line with technology, regulations, and the threat landscape. Likewise, the skills and expertise needed to implement effective data strategies are constantly changing too. 

As a result, many businesses have skills gaps that are expensive and time-consuming to close, making it particularly tricky to handle data management in-house. But thankfully, there’s another option. By partnering with a trusted data expert, you can:

  • Enjoy the benefits of effective data management with none of the hassle or risk
  • Access cutting-edge data tools and platforms
  • Build data strategies that are tailor-made to your business needs
  • Implement data processes that are bulletproof and effective
  • Free up your resources to focus on adding value to your organisation 

Get the data management support you need with Ipsos Jarmany

Whilst there are a number of best practices businesses can deploy in order to effectively manage their data, these require significant skills and expertise to implement correctly. Given the costs of hiring, training and retaining in-house talent, partnering with data analytics agencies is an increasingly attractive proposition.

As a leading data management and analytics agency, at Ipsos Jarmany we have the knowledge and tools required to build data strategies that drive long-term growth and success. We work with some of the biggest organisations in the world, setting up processes that keep their data safe, clean, and accessible, thereby helping them make efficient, data-driven decisions

On top of that, we are a certified ISO 27001:2013 company, which means we have to demonstrate the ability to efficiently handle confidential customer data through robustly managed processes and adhere to stringent compliance checks.

If you’d like to find out how Ipsos Jarmany can help you build a data management strategy and utilise your data to thrive in an ever-changing business landscape, get in touch with us today.