Poor data mastery impacting ability to drive value from data, Oracle report shows

On average less than 40% of companies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) are confident they can master their data – that is manage, secure and gain insight from data, and use it responsibly. Capabilities in these four areas aren’t projected to increase in the next three years, according to a new study from cloud company, Oracle, called ‘Building trust in your information and security’. This is despite respondents recognising the value of achieving excellence in these areas, with the top three benefits in South Africa being cited as increased customer loyalty, revenue and greater brand value.

“We know that being able to leverage data gives immense business benefit and a lead that others find hard to diminish,” said Andrew Sutherland, Senior Vice President, Technology and Systems, Oracle APAC and EMEA. “But these findings suggest that organisations are still being overwhelmed by the data deluge faced. Companies need to tackle the problem head on. This will come from better internal practices and putting data management strategies and enhanced security controls in place. Additionally, the prudent use of cloud and emerging technologies like AI and automation will also be key as we hit that tipping point where the data and security challenge is becoming just too big for humans alone.”

Key South African findings:

  • On average 42% of respondents do not have a data management strategy in place, although South African companies are most likely to have one, with 46% of South African respondents saying that they have a strategy in place.

  • Only 33% of the companies feel highly confident in the security of the data their organisation holds

  • Companies feel that they are least able to manage data from IoT and other sensor data and most able to manage data from financial reports.

  • Top 3 security and data priorities for the year ahead: South African companies’ priorities are to enhance security controls and procedures (42%); to enforce technologies enabling insight availability instantly, anyplace, anytime - securely (42%) and to promote internal awareness and education to threats (36%).

Collective effort needed

When it comes to looking at who is accountable for securing data, there seems to be confusion about who is meant to take the lead. For example, while nearly half of all finance and IT decision makers say they are accountable for securing data within their organisation, only a third of those who typically use data – marketing and HR – revealed they take accountability.

Mind the gap

While a little over half (53%) of South African leaders surveyed believe that the secure management of data is very important to reputational risk, the study shows there are many key internal behaviours that compromise trust.  

35% South African respondents say that the biggest concern around data security inside the organisation is a willingness to manage data through mobile devices or social platforms, followed by use of untrusted devices/connections in data management (32%) and misuse of critical data (30%).

Some of the other top behaviours respondents indicated as compromising their trust in how data is managed include: Low attention to data confidentiality; failure to enforce company security policies; and blindness on how data is supposed to be used.

Driving change

Countering these behavioural issues, South African organisations sharing critical data used internally are more likely to share documents that are password protected (44%), more likely to have access to secure on-premise databases (41%) and more likely to use data on trusted devices (36%).

When it comes to the key data and security priorities, South African companies for the year ahead are enhancing security controls and procedures (42%); enforcing technologies enabling insight availability instantly, anyplace, anytime - securely (42%) and promoting internal awareness and education to threats (36%). Organisations are also turning to technology companies for help across the spectrum of data mastery including accelerating the move to cloud for enhanced security performance (34%), ensuring controls on AI and machine learning algorithms reduce bias (29%) and AI and machine learning to drive actionable insights from data (28%).

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