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What Big Data Says About Us

Sociological studies of ancient civilizations tell us a lot about previous peoples based on their most prized possessions. Whether prioritizing gold, grains or other goods, what we own has often defined us and can offer insight into the way a culture works.

In this era of Big Data, the information that companies store, how they manage it and their policies for protecting it also says a lot about an organization, its values and operations. What are your organization’s policies for generating and using personal information?

This is a valid ethical question raised by the big data phenomenon, and enterprises need to reconsider business decisions concerning privacy and identity. Authors Kord Davis and Doug Patterson in their recent book, Ethics of Big Data, assess techniques to help your business engage in a transparent and productive ethical inquiry into your current data practices.

Because data is the foundation of predictive analysis in the marketplace for just about everything—products, customers actions, suppliers, finance, banking and preferences from food to opinions including politics—what data to dissect and how it is disbursed can be called into question. With so much information, we are now starting to recognize that there needs to be balance between using data responsively and how it is retained particularly when it comes to securing personal identifying data, intellectual property and other sensitive information. Questions need to be asked, and answered, as to what is going too far and where does invasion of privacy begin.

There are many approaches for managing data and placing it so that the right data is available in the right place when needed by the right people. A multitude of factors, including business requisites, technology costs and regulatory requirements, contribute to shaping a successful data strategy. This also includes an end of life process for data destruction when it no longer needed and/or its regulated retention time has expired.

Think about how your organization manages Big Data. If you don’t know, you should ask. And, if no one can say, the time to act is now. Because how you manage Big Data tells customers, partners and employees a lot about your organization.

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