Why centralizing your content matters for privacy

In today’s digital age, businesses often find themselves questioning their ability to comply with the ever-changing landscape of data protection laws in Europe, the United States and beyond. While meeting data protection requirements is a crucial first step, true preparedness lies in maintaining a robust data governance program within their organization.

That's where content centralization comes into play — a powerful strategy that can help businesses stay ahead of the game and ensure their ability to handle fluctuations in privacy laws around the globe.

Harnessing advantages and privacy compliance through centralization

Regulations have become increasingly stringent when it comes to holding organizations accountable for safeguarding personal identifiable information (PII) and related sensitive data. Simultaneously, consumers increasingly view data privacy as an essential aspect of safeguarding their personal rights. To enhance the data protection and effective utilization of unstructured data, consider how data management aligns with compliance with privacy laws. As the landscape continues to fluctuate, an organization’s readiness posture to achieve compliance will be a critical factor.

In 2019, Reuters found that 79% of companies were either failing to meet or having trouble  keeping up to date with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU. Despite GDPR being introduced five years ago, a 2023 survey found 55% of companies who  do business in the EU and UK still find it challenging to adapt to new or changing requirements. Such difficulties risk non-compliance, which in turn could result in costly fines. 

The €1.2 billion fine issued to  Meta for failing to comply with EU regulation when transferring personal data  to the US highlights the severe penalties businesses face. for  Furthermore,  the fact the UK is looking to introduce a new Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, indicates regulation will continue to evolve, elevating the need for companies to have robust data compliance to keep pace with new privacy laws. 

Recent findings by IDC showed that for 46 percent of organizations, one of the biggest challenges to unstructured data lies in compliance with data privacy laws.* With content centralized in one place within a cloud-based platform, it’s easier to apply consistent data privacy, security, and governance controls across everything, unifying the output of tools and effectively ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements — assuming organizations choose a platform that abides by current regulatory standards. By adopting this centralized approach, organizations can bolster their ability to secure sensitive information while ensuring compliance with legal requirements, all while optimizing resource allocation on an increasingly tight IT budget.

The perils of dispersed content

Organizations face a common challenge: scattered content. They often don’t know exactly where PII is processed and stored, particularly when it comes to the most sensitive and high-risk personal data, and whether proper controls are in place. When valuable information is spread across various storage systems, finding specific information can be incredibly challenging.

And here’s another catch: not all data is created equal

Structured data, with its critical consumer information, often steals the spotlight when it comes to security measures. But what about unstructured data? Think of all those patient charts filled with highly sensitive personal health information (PHI) and corporate slide presentations packed with material non-public information concerning a company’s business insights. These data sets deserve the same level of protection as structured data.

Despite making up an average of 90 percent of a company's data treasure trove,* unstructured data tends to be neglected and left disorganized. According to IDC’s survey, half of companies admit that their unstructured data remains siloed away from proper management.

This lack of oversight leaves businesses vulnerable to unauthorized access or even, data breaches. Yet, only 44 percent of surveyed companies believe they can justify investments for projects aimed at improving the use and security of unstructured data.*

Enhanced data accessibility and utilization

According to IDC reports, less than half of companies analyze their unstructured data to extract valuable insights. s organizations prioritize Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI), those with a well-defined content strategy are at a significant advantage when it comes to leveraging its potential.

To harness the power of GenAI, businesses must consolidate and organize their unstructured data into one accessible location. Businesses can then unlock and garner insights from vast amounts of information, which will provide significant competitive advantage.

Furthermore, such access improves understanding of what PII may be found in unstructured data, which is  critical from a data privacy and security perspective. Large language models (LLMs) can be leveraged to identify PII and sensitive content, in turn supporting a company’s privacy compliance efforts. Enabling LLMs to identify/tag PII throughout a company’s system will support a meaningful data governance program — along with confirming compliance as the privacy regulatory landscape continues to fluctuate.

Surprisingly, only 3 percent of companies surveyed by IDC have shown no interest in deploying GenAI in some capacity.* This means that for the remaining 97 percent, centralized content will be an essential prerequisite for success.

Minimized duplication and increased productivity

Have you ever wondered how much time and effort is wasted within an organization due to reinventing the wheel? On average, a staggering 22 percent of content is recreated from scratch.*

This is often the result of difficulty finding existing documents, or even knowing they exist.. Imagine an executive burning the midnight oil to create a last-minute presentation when someone else has already made a slide deck that could be easily modified. 

Centralizing content enhances visibility into all the sources of unstructured data within an organization. With content in one centralized place, organizations can reduce duplication efforts and streamline content-sharing Not only does this make it easier to search for specific information whenever needed, but it allows for consistent meta-tagging across the entire organization. The result? Improved productivity, increased collaboration, and meticulous control over where PII may be located across multiple systems, databases, and repositories. This increased visibility empowers businesses to effectively manage the security of their content while simultaneously enhancing their data governance posture. 

Optimized value while mitigating data privacy risks

Harnessing the power of unstructured data through centralized management is not only a valuable resource but an opportunity for organizations to optimize their operations efficiently. By adopting proactive measures to safeguard personal information, businesses can ensure that they stay ahead in this ever-changing digital landscape. So let's embrace the potential of centrally managed unstructured data and unlock new possibilities — while keeping security and data privacy at the forefront.

Originally published in Infosecurity Magazine

*Source: IDC White Paper, Sponsored by Box Inc., “Untapped Value: What Every Executive Needs to Know About Unstructured Data,” Doc. #US51128223, August 2023

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