In the face of growing digital threats, new regulations and an increased reliance on data to inform decision-making, research commissioned by commercial data and analytics provider Dun & Bradstreet has found that half of businesses (50%) admit they are worried about maintaining data privacy. With government bodies introducing more robust data regulations in recent years, such as the GDPR and the UK’s General Data Protection Regulation, businesses dependent on customer and supplier data revealed that these regulatory requirements are a concern.
The findings, published in Dun & Bradstreet’s Future of Data report which surveyed 1,700 business decision makers across Europe, revealed that despite over half (52%) of businesses believing they wouldn’t survive without relevant, up-to-date and compliant data, over two-fifths (44%) are concerned that they will be unable to protect their data in the future. Moreover, over half of the study’s respondents (52%) expressed concern that their reliance on data is making them increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
These fears extend beyond regulation to the overall health and transparency of supply chains, particularly following the severe disruption caused by Covid-19 across the globe. In fact, two-thirds of businesses believe the importance of data has increased for their organisation when monitoring supply chains (62%) and two thirds (65%) believe that data has become more important when assessing risk since the pandemic began. This is particularly important, with the European Union forecasting there will be four times more software supply chain attacks in 2021 than there were in 2020, as cybercriminals shift to larger, cross-border targets.
“The past two years have shown us that access to reliable and timely data is crucial to the survival of businesses – but protecting this data and successfully using it to mitigate risks in the supply chain and complying with new regulation must be at the forefront of every leader’s data-driven strategy,” said Nicola Howell, Managing Attorney, Legal at Dun & Bradstreet UKI and Europe. “Many of these issues can appear daunting to businesses that lack the expertise and resource to protect and best utilise their data, but it’s vital that leaders incorporate the potential vulnerabilities into their planning today, to better manage these risks for the future.”
Investing in a data strategy and expertise
To ensure that data is adequately protected, businesses must invest in their data strategy; however almost half (47%) feel their company is rushing its data strategy. Despite these concerns, organisations want to do the right thing – and half (49%) are anxious about the ethical use of data in the future.
One solution that organisations are turning to, is obtaining external support to help improve their data quality, data protection and to ensure that their data strategy is watertight. According to respondents, drawing on more third-party data could enable their organisation to both help current customers (62%) and win more business (60%).
A further two thirds believe that having more complete data (65%) and more accurate data (66%) would help the sales team to convert more opportunities, delivering clear benefits for the business.
External support can also help businesses to make the best use of the data they have – and two thirds of organisations would value more advice (67%).
Howell continues: “Despite its many advantages, a greater reliance on data and associated risks is clearly weighing on the minds of many leaders. Creating data strategies which enable both the use and protection of data is a challenging undertaking, and it’s worth remembering that this isn’t a simple tick box exercise. When considering the challenge, we need to adopt the mindset of continuous improvement – and acknowledge that every organisation is on a journey with data. As businesses become more mature in their use of data, there are extra complexities to consider: data provenance, consumer permissions, regulations and their responsibilities when customers consume that data. Turning to a trusted partner can be hugely valuable, enabling organisations to focus on what they do best and remain compliant.”