When I decided to to attend a conference last week organized by Paul Writer – the Mumbai Brand Summit & Mumbai’s Hot 50 Brands – I looked forward to an interesting afternoon listening to some of the finest minds on marketing talk, present and debate about brands in today’s context.  It did seem like it is an exciting time to be a marketer – with endless possibilities powered by technology.  A thought that hit me while listening to various eminent CMOs speak was – ‘It’s all about data!’ The power of marketing seems to increasingly lie in how smartly and quickly a brand could leverage the data that was available to it today – which is by the truckloads.

And I started wondering, ‘How many of these folks worry about their data’s Security & Privacy? For eg:

  • How many were concerned about how this data was safeguarded, who all had access to it, what would happen if some of it leaked out, what if it got into a competitor’s hands, what if some of that data got corrupted and suddenly became unavailable?
  • How many paused and thought about the kind of data they were collecting? Were they sure it was within the legal and regulatory framework? For those dealing with consumers outside India, did they realize this was an even more complex issue? 
  • Did they comprehend the associated liabilities if things went wrong?

So while they devised strategies and built plans, had they made sure that someone within their organization had their backs on the above score? Did they understand the seriousness of these issues enough to go and actively demand that they be addressed. Or were they like the majority…relegating it to a ‘tech problem’?

As a responsible marketer, here are six things you should do right away:

1. Identify your critical data

Identify the data that is really important and needs to be protected from ‘leaking out’ or getting damaged. This will ensure everyone in your organization understands what gets top priority and needs to be safeguarded at any cost. Also remember that this is an ongoing exercise as the kind of data you deal with keeps changing and evolving.

2. Ensure proper controls are in place

Talk to your CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) or the CXO who is responsible for Information Risk and Security in your organization. Understand:

–     What kind of policies and processes have been instituted for protecting your data

–     What technology measures have been put in place to monitor & control data leakage / damage

3. Ensure there are proper back-up & disaster recovery measures

Find out how data is being backed up, where the back-ups are stored, if there is a copy being stored at a different location and what recovery measures have been instituted if there is a disaster and the main data centre goes out of action.

4. Understand your liabilities

Today there are laws and regulations governing data in every country. Many are industry-specific too. For eg, in India, we have the Indian Information Technology (IT) Act and the ‘Sensitive Data Protection Rules’ under that. The Act clearly defines what data is considered ‘Personal Information’ and ‘Sensitive Personal Information’. There are civil and well as criminal penalties associated with misuse of the above. Make sure you understand all this well – so you and your organization can take proper steps.

5. Cover your risks from 3rd parties

You deal with various vendors and service providers who get access and work on your data. Make sure that they also have basic measures in place to protect your data. Make sure this is covered in the contracts you sign with these 3rd parties. For the critical ones, you may also want to do periodic audits. After all, you don’t want to be in a situation where you do all that is required at your end but you remain vulnerable thanks to your vendors.

6. User education

Last but not the least, educate people – not just your team members but those of your vendors and service providers as well. All the measures instituted can come to naught if one of your folks does something stupid – like clicking on a link that gets virus into her device that can spread and corrupt critical data. Pay special attention to Social Media do’s and don’ts. Many a corporate secret has slipped out because some kid posted something inappropriate.

Published with permission from Author.
Image courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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