Monetizing Data: Why Companies Are Looking Inside to Drive Business Success

Data volumes are soaring globally as the digital world continues to grow exponentially. By some estimates, the amount created, captured, copied, and consumed worldwide will grow by 24% year-on-year to hit 120 zettabytes by the end of 2023. It could reach as much as 181 zettabytes by 2025.

Organizations have been trying to make money from this data for many years. But with affordable cloud-based analytics tools now widely available, the focus has shifted from “if” they should push ahead with projects to “how.”

The world is increasingly built on data. But monetizing it effectively is not so easy. Management consultant Kearney’s research a few years ago found that just 8% of companies could be considered analytics leaders.

Saving costs and creating revenue streams

Data monetization can mean different things to different companies. For some, it’s about selling data directly to third parties. For others, it’s about using data internally to drive business benefits. The focus of this article is the latter. And the good news is that there’s plenty on offer for those who get it right. According to Kearney, analytics market leaders generated 60% more profit than businesses that lagged behind.

So, what can data monetization achieve in this context? Economic benefits include:

Cost reduction by using data to reduce waste and consumption, and/or optimize operations.

Competitive advantage over those organizations which have yet to effectively derive business insight from data.

Strategic partnerships with third-party organizations are also keen to benefit from the data insights generated by your business.

New products/services/features can be created from intelligence on new market trends. This will help to drive additional revenue streams.

How to get started

While technology has certainly lowered the bar to entry for organizations seeking to invest in data monetization, it is not something to enter lightly. Careful planning is required to first map out a strategy, and then execute it. Consider the following:

  1. Understand the corporate data landscape
    Before working out a plan of action, it pays to know exactly what data the enterprise collects, and how valuable it is. Could there be new opportunities to collect additional data which could be monetized, and how easy would it be to do so?
  2. Work out your goals
    Understand what your objectives are. Is this primarily a cost-cutting exercise or is it more about creating innovative new products and services to add value for customers? Is the focus internal or does the company want to sell data insights to third parties?
  3. Establish who your clients will be
    Once those goals have been established, it’s about deciding who the primary recipient of data insights will be. Will it be the board? The finance team? Or perhaps the marketing and sales departments?
  4. Get boardroom buy-in
    As with most ambitious business projects, the green light must be given from the very top to guarantee progress. Only with this kind of buy-in will key stakeholders get the nudge they need to accelerate initiatives. Senior executives still to be won over may benefit from seeing case studies involving competitors which have already successfully leveraged data insights.

Next steps

Once a strategy is in place, it’s time to build the all-important business processes that will put it into action. Cloud-based platforms like Snowflake are increasingly essential to manage the sheer scale of data volumes necessary for these projects. The centralized nature of these platforms also makes it easier to collaborate, with all team members working from a single source of truth.

Critically, data monetization will only produce the desired results if the data itself is protected from thieves and accidental leakage. It must be secured in a way that still enables utility, whilst mitigating the risk of serious financial, reputational and compliance risks.

Data Monetization: Why Everything Starts with Data-Centric Security

It’s hard to think of a business today that isn’t data driven. Whether selling it to third parties or leveraging insight internally, monetizing that data one way or another is the primary impulse of most boards. But there’s a catch. As data insight becomes a differentiator for enterprises, it has also emerged as a potential business risk.

If not properly protected, it could be stolen, accidentally leaked, or even tampered with. Organizations must therefore prioritize efforts to secure their most critical business assets. The good news is that they can do so without impacting its utility.

Why data means business

Earlier in this article, we explained how and why global organizations are looking to unlock insight from corporate data via a variety of monetization strategies. These range from lowering costs through optimized operations to creating new products and revenue streams from market intelligence. Each delivers a competitive advantage, whether it’s innovative customer-facing services, cost reduction, an insight which can be sold to third parties, or even improved employee retention experiences and retention.

The leading pack is already pulling away. One analyst report reveals that organizations with advanced “insight-driven business” capabilities are eight times more likely to say they grew by 20% more than “beginner” firms. Yet the same report says leaders are also “consistently undergirding data initiatives with good governance.” This is critically important, as it means they put in place effective policies and processes to ensure data is collected, stored, processed, and ultimately disposed of securely.

Why security matters

There are many ways enterprise data could be at risk of compromise. They include:

  • Malicious third parties looking for customer data to sell on the dark web
  • State actors or rival companies hoping to tamper with analytics data to disrupt operations/monetization
  • Accidental exposure or theft from a third-party supplier
  • Employee negligence leading to data exposure

Any or all of these risks could lead to:

  • Major data breach costs (including third-party forensics, legal costs, notification costs etc)
  • Reputational damage and customer churn stemming from a serious breach
  • Compliance risks include fines, more bad publicity, and potentially even criminal liability for executives
  • Disruption to data monetization projects, possibly permanently

Getting started with data-centric security

The bad news is that there are plenty of opportunities for malicious or negligent actors to make an impact. Modern data environments are chaotic and distributed.

Often organizations don’t know where their most sensitive data is located, how risky it is, who has access to it, or where it flows in the enterprise. These are all vital areas to gain visibility into – and not just once but continuously, because corporate data is being created and destroyed every single day. If you can’t see it, you can’t protect it.

However, on a more positive note, mapping and protecting this data doesn’t need to be as challenging as it sounds. Products like comforte’s Data Security Platform offer:

  • Strong data protection, in line with industry standards
  • The ability to use the data for analytics while it is protected (e.g., via format-preserving encryption or tokenization)
  • Automatic and continuous discovery, classification, and protection across the entire corporate environment, including cloud systems
  • Protection throughout the entire data lifecycle and at rest, in motion and in use
  • Simple integration with business apps and data flows

Want to learn more?

Click the button below to download our data security platform solution brief:
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  • Thomas Gloerfeld

    Thomas Gloerfeld is Director of Partner Development & Marketing NonStop Solutions at comforte and has been associated with the NonStop community for 25 years. Before joining comforte, he held various management positions at ACI Worldwide in Germany and the UK. In his role at comforte he closely monitors topics such as data security, risk and compliance.

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