It is hard to calculate exactly, but around 3.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day. In case you are wondering, a quintillion is a 1 followed by 18 zeros. That is a lot of data, and it looks set to continue increasing.
As the amount of data increases, so too does the amount collected and used by businesses. Data is key to decision-making for many companies and is a core part of many marketing plans and customer engagement strategies. However, there has also been an increase in concerns from the public at large regarding privacy.
For all companies handling data, big data compliance is now as important as the data itself. So, what is big data compliance and how does it affect what you do with the data you collect?
What is Big Data?
Just like web developers may use a Python library to automatically request and receive information, many modern businesses implement automated forms that ask customers for their personal information. This has resulted in a staggering volume and variety of data being collected and stored daily.
But big data is not just about the volume, but also the growing complexity of data that organizations collect, store, and analyze. One issue for organizations that harness big data is that many of the traditional data management tools cannot cope with the volume and complexity we see now.
For example, if you look at a financial service data model, you can see just how much data collection, use, and storage has increased. This consists of a multitude of file types, as well as being a mix of structured and unstructured data. Gleaning any insights out of this requires specialized tools, skilled analysts, and a lot of storage.
Types of Data
There are three main types of data that you will likely be using:
- Structured data: This refers to any data that your organization can store, access, analyze, and use in a fixed format. This is usually data that is easy to work with and that gives you clear information in the area it refers to. For example, you might have a database of employee information that you can easily access and identify things such as employee name, position, location, salary, etc. This is structured data.
- Unstructured data: If you handle data that is in an unknown format, then that is unstructured data. This can present you with multiple challenges in how to process that data and make it useful. An example of unstructured data would be a file (or files) that is a combination of images, text, videos, and so on.
- Semi-structured data: Semi-structured data is data that combines elements of both the other types. For example, you may have employee data in the form of an XML file. This has data that is both structured and unstructured.
Benefits of Using Big Data
Of course, it is not all complexity and risk. There are a lot of benefits to using big data, namely the amount of insights you can gather and apply across your business. These include:
- Better risk management: A combination of AI, machine learning, and big data can help improve risk management models, giving businesses time to prepare for potential problems.
- Improved customer retention: So much of the data companies gather is about their customers, so it only makes sense to use it. Understanding what makes them tick, what they respond well (and poorly) to, as well as monitoring overall market trends means you can create customer engagement strategies that keep them coming back.
- Flexible supply chain management: Big data can make it easier to work out exactly when you are going to need to place orders, account for risks, and predict peaks and troughs in demand. This means you can walk that fine line between having surplus products and being sold out, maximizing your profits, and minimizing your costs.
What is Big Data Compliance?
Given the increasing use of data in all its forms, it is unsurprising that there has been an equal increase in the concerns regarding how people’s data could be harvested and used. Step forward data compliance, something that is increasingly necessary in a data-driven world.
Data compliance refers to an organization’s systems, structures, and practices that help a business meet the requirements of laws and regulations regarding big data. This can cover everything from how to label data, how you collect it, how you use it, and how you store it.
While laws and regulations may differ from region to region, the important thing to note is that it is not always about where you are based but rather where you do business. For example, although the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is an EU law, it is designed to protect EU citizens. Therefore, if you do any sort of business within that area, then you need to understand GDPR and data protection.
How Does Big Data Compliance Affect You?
It is your responsibility to ensure you comply with any laws and regulations that govern your sector or apply to the geographical areas you do business in. Some may be region-specific but others may be procedures and policies that apply globally. A good example of global procedure and policies would be the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
With cybercrime continually on the rise and a need for more robust cybersecurity measures, these different laws, regulations, and procedures can help protect against identity theft and other crimes. It can also help to instill a sense of confidence in customers when they know that you meet any compliance requirements and that you regularly audit the processes and systems involved in how you handle big data.
Evidently, it is not only about internal audits. The relevant regulatory authorities also want you to account for every step in your data-handling process. These audits are perhaps the primary effect big data compliance can have on the data you use and how you deal with it. These authorities can certify you as being compliant or they can highlight areas where you are falling short of compliant status.
If you are dealing with big data, then there are several things you need to be doing to gain compliance status.
- Data collection: How are you collecting data and what data are you collecting? It is crucial that you let people know what you are doing and what laws and regulations govern your actions. You also need to give people the option to opt out of you collecting their data or customizing the type of data collected as they increasingly want to know how you handle privacy.
- Data storage: A lot of the data you will collect can be highly sensitive. This can range from financial data to health-related data. With such volumes of data to be stored and protected, there is an increasing move to cloud storage or to modern lake house architecture as outlined in the Delta Book.
- Data security: Security covers every step of the data-handling process. Ensuring that the data you collect and use cannot be accessed by unauthorized parties is of paramount importance. Certainly, data breaches can still happen regardless of even the most stringent measures, thus, you also need to have robust and effective risk mitigation policies in place.
- Data analysis: How you analyze the data you collect also needs to meet any relevant compliance requirements. While some of the processes may be automated, you should also have competent staff who can assist in the process, and more importantly, identify security threats across your entire process.
These steps may sound like a lot of work and they are significantly more so than if your business was just handling small data. You need to be able to demonstrate to regulators that you have considered every potential threat and that you have taken steps to prevent those threats and to mitigate the effects where the worst is to happen.
Big Data Compliance – Is It Worth It?
The simple answer to this question is yes. If you fail to comply with the relevant laws and regulations, then you could face punitive action from the regulating bodies. In fact, that punitive action can be very costly. Meta, the parent company of Facebook was fined a record 1.2 billion Euros for breaching GDPR rules regarding the transfer of data.
Of course, big data can be a double-edged sword, and such massive amounts of information when handled and analyzed properly, can give you competitive advantages and deeper insights into customer behavior.
The amount of data that is generated will continue to grow, both in terms of volume and complexity. In tandem with that growth, you will also likely see increasing demands from the public to know what you do with their data and how you protect it. With cybercrime also increasing, there is a good chance that you may see more stringent compliance requirements.
Taking the right steps now will be easier than having to fix them further down the line – you might have a lot of data to handle today, but just imagine how much more you will be dealing with a year from now.