Data: The business risk of the future

Data: The business risk of the future
Yolanda Smit, Regional (Gauteng) Director at PBT Group.
Data: The business risk of the future
Yolanda Smit, Regional (Gauteng) Director at PBT Group.

The data-driven environment of today will lead to the biggest business risk of the future – security around personal information. While [data] maturity levels across industries might vary, the regulatory environment focusing on information practices should give an indication as to its importance.

With services becoming increasingly digital, organisations must become good custodians of customer data. It requires just one incident making the news to financially and reputationally cripple an organisation. In the digital world, loyalty is very difficult to maintain. With so many competitors globally offering customers the products and services they need, it does not take much to see them migrate to a competitor.

Decision-makers, therefore, must be incredibly conscious of what they do with data and how they are safeguarding it.


With the likes of POPIA (Protection of Personal Information Act) in South Africa and the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in Europe becoming law, being compliant with their requirements should be a fundamental first step for businesses. By adhering to these regulations, companies are protecting themselves against the risks of compromised data.

In this digital world, best practices simply cannot be sacrificed.

Despite this, the orientation of data in older environments are getting very little focus. Complicating matters is how newer systems and analytical approaches require better transparency. The need to protect this link and how the data is used must be critical components.

Open world

We are aware that the younger generation is more open about the kind of things they share online. But being open does not necessarily mean they are being frivolous with their privacy. In fact, they are more conscious than ever about the need to protect it.

This sees the emergence of a young customer base that puts privacy very high on their priority list. Therefore, data security is not something that should be viewed a grudge purchase. The same with compliance. These are important elements to realise business value.

Protecting data

Protecting against reputational damage should be the biggest motivational factor in compliance with data legislation. Broken confidence can take years to repair and it is never guaranteed to provide a complete recovery. Organisations cannot afford to compromise or lose data.

This means that if you are not mature in terms of leveraging the data at your disposal, then you cannot be competitive. Turning analytics into insights based on the data on your systems is a business imperative. To do any less, could see the business being forced to shut its doors sooner than you think.

By Yolanda Smit, Regional (Gauteng) Director at PBT Group