In the past decade, business intelligence solutions have evolved substantially, starting with relatively difficult-to-use, expensive solutions and transforming into affordable, intuitive and accessible software. One of the main vehicles used to deploy modern big data strategies has been cloud services, as these pieces of infrastructure, software and platforms can provide the flexibility and spend efficiency necessary for a successful pursuit of analytics.
Another benefit of using cloud services for big data strategies is the ability to centralize the management of oversight and security, as well as information governance, despite the variety of departments and employees partaking in analytics activities from myriad endpoints. This mitigates one of the growing concerns attached to big data - security - which is still relatively uncharted territory for the average business owner.
Some groups have argued that the best way to become more secure in the modern, risk-filled era is to simply minimize the amount of data that is stored in their facilities. However, as many small business owners already know, this is an increasingly impossible pursuit, as well as one that can lead to poor strategic differentiation considering the value that comes with high quantities of quality digital information.
Instead, experts have suggested that there are plenty of ways to better control the ebb and flow of big data security through policy and strategic deployment of advanced solutions. For one, cloud services can help users better control access and collection practices. On the other hand, the policies that are guiding the use of big data analytics, as well as information governance at large, must be refined ahead of these deployments.
Gartner's weighty warnings
Gartner recently estimated that 80 percent of businesses that utilize modern analytics will not succeed in crafting adequate and consolidated data security guidelines for their big data investments within the next two years, asserting that this will lead to significant threats, liabilities and compliance issues. While many companies have completely isolated their information governance policies for big data from the overarching ones, Gartner believes that this will be a direct cause of poor performance in the security arena before too long.
"Businesses have traditionally managed data within structured and unstructured silos, driven by inherent requirements to deploy relational database management systems, file storage systems and unstructured file shares," Brian Lowans, principal research analyst at Gartner, explained. "However, the advent of big data and cloud storage environments is transforming the way in which data is stored, accessed and processed, and CISOs need to develop a data-centric security approach. Unfortunately this is not common practice today, and its planning is critical to avoid uncoordinated data security policies and management."
Other members of the firm stated that leadership among big data-enabled organizations must ensure that they are collaborating and communicating properly, especially among chief information security officers and others in the C-Suite. When communication breakdowns occur between these individuals and IT begins to have less of a voice in the board room, transparency issues will often begin to rear their ugly head.
"First, CISOs need to evaluate current implementations of DCAP solutions against data security policies that address database, unstructured, cloud storage and big data silos," Lowans added. "Second, they need to identify gaps in the current implementation of their data security policies and review the risks with business stakeholders against potential DCAP solutions."
Finally, Gartner went on to explain that stakeholders from the business unit should be just as involved in provisioning, deployment and oversight as those in the IT department. Big data can be an extremely difficult strategy to control and secure, demanding a high level of teamwork, employee awareness programs and policy refinements to function optimally.
Getting the help needed
Small business owners will need to proactively recognize when they are not adequately prepared to tackle a new data-related process or procedure with the expertise and resources they have on hand. Rather than playing a guessing game and simply hoping that vulnerabilities do not turn into calamities, entrepreneurs should look to take advantage of the external support structures that are available today.
Service providers that specialize in cloud services, unified communications and general data management and compliance activities can quickly reduce the level of risk for any small business that is beginning a new analytics program. Additionally, as Gartner's analysts stressed the importance of cohesion among management frameworks and oversight authorities, the use of a service provider that can comprehensively tackle deployments and maintenance might be the most efficient option.
At the end of the day, taking this approach to IT management can be especially helpful for security and new strategic deployments because they will free professionals within the technology department from routine maintenance responsibilities, allowing them to focus on broader needs and objectives. As mobility and big data continue to play a bigger role in market competition, proactively deploying the tools necessary to manage these programs is becoming increasingly critical.