Big data explosion: Top tips for data management

Big data means many different things, depending on who you ask. To those not familiar with it, big data appears to be just another trend – a buzzword used by the corporate types, akin to synergy, or some other phrase that no one can quite define. For those in the business sector, however, big data means something quite different.

Mass amounts of information – whether pertaining to clients, market size, projected growth or a whole host of other sources – holds significant potential for today’s companies. Even those that utilize it on a daily basis are unaware of how much big data there is out there.

According to InformationWeek contributor Jeff Bertolucci, enterprises currently analyze only about 12 percent of the data they have on hand. What’s more is that the amount of big data will only grow in the coming years. Today, there is about 3.2 zettabytes of big data floating around the cybersphere. Bertolucci noted that this figure is expected to jump to 40 zettabytes before 2020. And when you consider that a single zettabyte is equivalent to 1 billion terabytes, or just over 1 trillion gigabytes, that’s a nearly unfathomable amount of information.

This vast sum of data holds endless insights and possibilities for today’s corporations. However, this information is just as valuable to hackers and competitors as it is to the business that created and gathered it. As a result, companies have to be sure that they have iron-clad protections in place to keep this data secure and out of the hands of cybercriminals. Let’s take a look at some of the strategies organizations can implement to help ensure the safety of their mission-critical big data:

Know what information the company keeps
The first step toward better data management is taking stock of the big data the company currently has. After all, how can administrators hope to keep track of and protect this content if they don’t have a full idea of what data the business gathers and archives? The Guardian contributors Simon Hodson and Sarah Jones noted that enterprise leaders should know the types of big data the firm has, where it is stored and how it is used by any and all employees. This will provide a benchmark for the protection measures needed to secure the information.

Organize the company’s big data
Although this may seem like an insurmountable task, administrators should ensure that all big data is adequately organized. This means keeping secure databases and checking that information isn’t spread across disparate and siloed systems. Keeping data in several different locations within an organization can make managing it incredibly difficult. Without a properly organized system, redundant information could appear in different locations, creating more work for those in charge of managing it. Instead, big data should be categorized and archived by type. For instance, the enterprise could keep one repository strictly for big data related to its customers, and create a separate database for sales or revenue information. This way, employees can quickly find and utilize the data they require.

Implement data protection
Once administrators have taken stock of what data the company keeps and have organized it according to its proper category, they can effectively institute safeguards to ensure security. These can include the use of encryption technology alongside user authentication credentials, noted How-To Geek’s Lori Kaufman. In this way, decision-makers have improved oversight of their valuable big data and can ensure that only authorized individuals are able to access it.

Create an IT data management strategy
Within the majority of companies, the actual management and security of big data will be the responsibility of the IT team. Therefore, these individuals should be brought into the loop when higher-ups are creating a data management strategy. Bertolucci noted that there are a number of data management software options available today and the IT team should help select the best option for the company. An end-to-end data management solution can make all the difference when it comes to the organization and protection of valuable big data.