Wondering if your company needs a data system upgrade? It can be difficult for busy companies, especially smaller businesses focused on growth, to notice when their data strategies are out of date. Here are seven signs that frequently indicate the need for change.
1. You Have BYOD Without Necessary Guidelines
BYOD (bring your own device) offices are growing increasingly common around the world as companies grow open to letting employees use their own devices for work-related purposes. BYOD isn’t the problem: Not creating necessary precautions and data guidelines is where difficulties arise. Personal devices are some of the least secure around, and they are frequently used in locations with low-security networks where data can be intercepted.
The bottom is that if a company allows BYOD but doesn’t have guidelines for network use, app use, what to do if the phone is missing, how to properly deal with business data, they are behind the times. BYOD requires a significant amount of data security planning, today more than ever.
2. Data Isn’t Centralized
We’re not going to say that all decentralized data strategies are poor ideas – there is certainly a place for them. We’re talking about not having a good data strategy at all, which typically leads to data being housed in whatever device is convenient. This leads to a host of problems, including copies of data in multiple places, poor records of data access, sloppy server management, and a lack of support of off-site or remote work situations.
The answer to all these frequently is centralized data, a modern server arrangement, and a certain amount of virtualization to protect data that should not be stored on mobile devices. Remember, in general data is not safe on a solitary device like a smartphone (which can have OS, hardware and network vulnerabilities) or a desktop (which often has physical security issues). Information is better off in a centralized location where server safeguards and good data management can protect it.
3. Your Legacy Systems Are Several Years Old
Legacy systems are understandable side effects of large data and technology changes in a company. They happen. But they shouldn’t happen for such a long period of time. When a legacy system is implemented, leadership should work with IT to set a firm due date within a one or two years for its full phase out. Otherwise – and this happens very frequently – the company becomes a hodgepodge of new and older systems that are growing increasingly incompatible and confusing. That makes everything, including talent acquisition, more difficult, but businesses still have a tough time learning this lesson: Server, browser and OS updates tend to lag at least several versions behind the current option.
There are, of course, caveats. It’s especially tough to get rid of legacy systems if your clients or suppliers still depend on them. But the point still stands: If you are using legacy systems that are turning 5 years old, then something is wrong. It’s time to rethink your data relationships, for the sake of your own security.
4. The Latest Compliance Issues Don’t Apply to You
We know this looks like good news at a glance, but it’s actually a warning bell you should pay attention to. Think about health insurance codes: Suppose that a major change occurs to ICD 10 codes and it has everyone talking about the reclassification. Your company’s position, however, is, “We’re using ICD 9 codes, so we don’t have to worry about that.” That is not a good thing! It means you are well behind the current industry standards and face an uphill battle updating your system – one that should have begun some time ago in order for the company to meet regulations. If you don’t recognize a compliance issue in your industry, it’s time to pay very close attention, because that could mean your data strategy has fallen behind – and that legal troubles are approaching.
5. Each Department Has Its Own Apps
This issue happens when data strategies develop on their own for each department. This can work early on, but quickly leads to problems when data needs to be exchanged across departments or when employees move into different positions. Departments end up with their own apps, platforms and security processes, but no cohesion when the workflow goes beyond their own tasks. Implement data and software policies across the entire company, and find broad solutions.
6. Data Solutions Compete for Budget Resources
They shouldn’t – not in today’s data environment. Data budgets should be based on current industry requirements and best practices, not on inter-office competitions for budgeting based on proposals. Budget competition works for some situations, but does more harm than good in other scenarios. This is the latter case.
7. You Just Got Hacked (And Didn’t Even Know It)
From botnets and hardware vulnerabilities to dataset theft through more traditional malware attacks, hacking is growing more common – and it requires immediate response. Ultimately, the best indication that your data strategy needs an update is that you just got hacked. Consider it a wake-up call, control the damage, and prepare for next time.