Tag Archives: data security

IDMP Field Notes: Compliance Trends in Q1 2015

With the European Medicines Agency (EMA) date for compliance to IDMP (Identification of Medicinal Products) looming, Q1 2015 has seen a significant increase in IDMP activity.  Both Informatica & HighPoint Solution’s IDMP Round Table in January, and a February Marcus Evans conference in Berlin provided excellent forums for sharing progress, thoughts and strategies.  Additional confidential conversations with pharmaceutical companies show an increase in the number of approved and active projects, although some are still seeking full funding.  The following paragraphs sum up the activity and trends that I have witnessed in the first three months of the year.

I’ll start with my favourite quote, which is from Dr. Jörg Stüben of Boehringer Ingelheim, who asked:

“Isn’t part of compliance being in control of your data?” 

I like it because to me it is just the right balance of stating the obvious, and questioning the way the majority of pharmaceutical companies approach compliance:  A report that has to be created and submitted.  If a company is in control of their data, regulatory compliance would be easier and come at a lower cost.  More importantly, the company itself would benefit from easy access to high quality data.

Dr. Stüben’s question was raised during his excellent presentation at the Marcus Evans conference.  Not only did he question the status quo, but proposed an alternate way for IDMP compliance:  Let Boehringer benefit from their investment in IDMP compliance.   His approach can be summarised as follows:

  • Embrace a holistic approach to being in control of data, i.e. adopt data governance practices.
  • This is not about just compliance. Include optional attributes that will deliver value to the organisation if correctly managed.
  • Get started by creating simple, clear work packages.

Although Dr Stüben did not outline his technical solution, it would include data quality tools and a product data hub.

At the same conference, Stefan Fischer Rivera & Stefan Brügger of Bayer and Guido Claes from Janssen Pharmaceuticals both came out strongly in favour of using a Master Data Management (MDM) approach to achieving compliance.  Both companies have MDM technology and processes within their organisations, and realise the value a MDM approach can bring to achieving compliance in terms of data management and governance.  Having Mr Claes express how well Informatica’s MDM and Data Quality solutions support his existing substance data management program, made his presentation even more enjoyable to me.

Whilst the exact approaches of Bayer and Janssen differed, there were some common themes:

  • Consider both the short term (compliance) and the long term (data governance) in the strategy
  • Centralised MDM is ideal, but a federated approach is practical for July 2016
  • High quality data should be available to a wide audience outside of IDMP compliance

The first and third bullet points map very closely to Dr. Stüben’s key points, and in fact show a clear trend in 2015:

IDMP Compliance is an opportunity to invest in your data management solutions and processes for the benefit of the entire organisation.

Although the EMA was not represented at the conference, Andrew Marr presented their approach to IDMP, and master data in general.  The EMA is undergoing a system re-organisation to focus on managing Substance, Product, Organisation and Reference data centrally, rather than within each regulation or program as it is today.  MDM will play a key role in managing this data, setting a high standard of data control and management for regulatory purposes.  It appears that the EMA is also using IDMP to introduce better data management practice.

Depending on the size of the company, and the skills & tools available, other non-MDM approaches have been presented or discussed during the first part of 2015.  These include using XML and SharePoint to manage product data.  However I share a primary concern with others in the industry with this approach:  How well can you manage and control change using these tools?  Some pharmaceutical companies have openly stated that data contributors often spend more time looking for data than doing their own jobs.  A XML/SharePoint approach will do little to ease this burden, but an MDM approach will.

Despite the others approaches and solutions being discovered, there is another clear trend in Q1 2015

MDM is becoming a favoured approach for IDMP compliance due to its strong governance, centralised attribute-level data management and ability to track changes.

Interestingly, the opportunity to invest in data management, and the rise of MDM as a favoured approach has been backed up with research by Gens Associates.  Messers Gens and Brolund found a rapid incGens Associates IA with captionrease in investment during 2014 of what they term Information Architecture, in which MDM plays a key role.  IDMP is seen as a major driver for this investment.  They go on to state that investment  in master data management programs will allow a much easier and cost effective approach to data exchange (internally and externally), resulting in substantial benefits.  Unfortunately they do not elaborate on these benefits, but I have placed a summary on benefits of using MDM for IDMP compliance here.

In terms of active projects, the common compliance activities I have seen in the first quarter of 2015 are as follows:

  • Most companies are in the discovery phase: identifying the effort for compliance
  • Some are starting to make technology choices, and have submitted RFPs/RFQs
    • Those furthest along in technology already have MDM programs or initiatives underway
  • Despite getting a start, some are still lacking enough funding for achieving compliance
    • Output from the discovery phase will in some cases be used to request full funding
  • A significant number of projects have a goal to implement better data management practice throughout the company. IDMP will be the as the first release.

A final trend I have noticed in 2015 is regarding the magnitude of the compliance task ahead:

Those who have made the most progress are those who are most concerned about achieving compliance on time. 

The implication is that the companies who are starting late do not yet realise the magnitude of the task ahead.  It is not yet too late to comply and achieve long term benefits through better data management, despite only 15 months before the initial EMA deadline.  Informatica has customers who have implemented MDM within 6 months.  15 months is achievable provided the project (or program) gets the focus and resources required.

IDMP compliance is a common challenge to all those in the pharmaceutical industry.  Learning from others will help avoid common mistakes and provide tips on important topics.  For example, how to secure funding and support from senior management is a common concern among those tasked with compliance.  In order to encourage learning and networking, Informatica and HighPoint Solutions will be hosting our third IDMP roundtable in London on May 13th.  Please do join us to share your experiences, and learn from the experiences of others.

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Regulation Ready: People, Processes and Technology, oh my!

Regulation Ready

Regulation Ready

Data Governance, the art of being Regulation Ready is about a lot of things, but one thing is clear. It’s NOT just about the technology. You ever been in one of those meetings, probably more than a few, where committees and virtual teams discuss the latest corporate initiatives? You know, those meetings where you want to dip your face in lava and run into the ocean? Because at the end of the meeting, everyone goes back to their day jobs and nothing changes.

Now comes a new law or regulation from the governing body du jour. There are common threads to each and every regulation related to data. Laws like HIPAA even had entire sections dedicated to the types of filing cabinets required in the office to protect healthcare data. And the same is true of regulations like BCBS 239, CCAR reporting and Solvency II. The laws ask; what are you reporting, how did you get that data, where has it been, what does this data mean and who has touched it. Virtually all of the regulations dealing with data have those elements.

So it behooves an organization to be Regulation Ready. This means those committees and virtual teams need to be driving cultural and process change. It’s not just about the technology; it’s as much about people and processes. Every role in the organization, from the developer to the business executive should embed the concepts of data governance in their daily work. From the time a developer or architect builds a new system, they need to document and define everything and every piece of data. It reminds me of days writing code and remembering to comment each code block. And the business executive likewise is sharing business rules and definition from the top so they can be integrated into the systems that eventually have to report on it.

Finally, the processes that support a data governance program are augmented by the technology. It may seem to suffice, that systems are documented in spreadsheets and documents, but those are more and more error prone and in the end not reliable in audit.

Informatica is the market leader in data management infrastructure to be Regulation Ready. This means, everything, from data movement and quality to definitions and security. Because at the end of the day, once you have the people culturally integrated, and the processes supporting the data workload, a centralized, high performance and feature rich technology needs to be in place to complete the trifecta. Informatica is pleased to offer the industry this leading technology as part of a comprehensive data governance foundation.

Informatica will be sharing this vision at the upcoming Annual FIMA 2015 Conference in Boston from March 30 to April 1. Come and visit Informatica at FIMA 2015 in Booth #3.

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Banks and the Art of the Possible: Disruptors are Re-shaping Banking

Banks and the Art of the Possible

Banks and the Art of the Possible: Disruptors are Re-shaping Banking

The problem many banks encounter today is that they have vast sums of investment tied up in old ways of doing things. Historically, customers chose a bank and remained ’loyal’ throughout their lifetime…now competition is rife and loyalty is becoming a thing of a past. In order to stay ahead of the competition, gain and keep customers, they need to understand the ever-evolving market, disrupt norms and continue to delight customers. The tradition of staying with one bank due to family convention or from ease has now been replaced with a more informed customer who understands the variety of choice at their fingertips.

Challenger Banks don’t build on ideas of tradition and legacy and see how they can make adjustments to them. They embrace change. Longer-established banks can’t afford to do nothing, and assume their size and stature will attract customers.

Here’s some useful information

Accenture’s recent report, The Bank of Things, succinctly explains what ‘Customer 3.0’ is all about. The connected customer isn’t necessarily younger. It’s everybody. Banks can get to know their customers better by making better use of information. It all depends on using intelligent data rather than all data. Interrogating the wrong data can be time-consuming, costly and results in little actionable information.

When an organisation sets out with the intention of knowing its customers, then it can calibrate its data according with where the gold nuggets – the real business insights – come from. What do people do most? Where do they go most? Now that they’re using branches and phone banking less and less – what do they look for in a mobile app?

Customer 3.0 wants to know what the bank can offer them all-the-time, on the move, on their own device. They want offers designed for their lifestyle. Correctly deciphered data can drive the level of customer segmentation that empowers such marketing initiatives. This means an organisation has to have the ability and the agility to move with its customers. It’s a journey that never ends -technology will never have a cut-off point just like customer expectations will never stop evolving.

It’s time for banks to re-shape banking

Informatica have been working with major retail banks globally to redefine banking excellence and realign operations to deliver it. We always start by asking our customers the revealing question “Have you looked at the art of the possible to future-proof your business over the next five to ten years and beyond?” This is where the discussion begins to explore really interesting notions about unlocking potential. No bank can afford to ignore them.

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How organizations can prepare for 2015 data privacy legislation

Original article can be found here, scmagazine.com

On Jan. 13 the White House announced President Barack Obama’s proposal  for new data privacy legislation, the Personal Data Notification and Protection Act.  Many states have laws today that require corporations and government agencies to notify consumers in the event of a breach – but it is not enough.  This new proposal aims to improve cybersecurity standards nationwide with the following tactics:

Enable cyber-security information sharing between private and public sectors. 

Government agencies and corporations with a vested interest in protecting our information assets need a streamlined way to communicate and share threat information. This component of the proposed legislation incents organizations that participate in knowledge-sharing with targeted liability protection, as long as they are responsible for how they share, manage and retain privacy data.

Modernize the tools law enforcement has to combat cybercrime.
Existing laws, such as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, need to be updated to incorporate the latest cyber-crime classifications while giving prosecutors the ability to target insiders with privileged access to sensitive and privacy data.  The proposal also specifically calls out pursuing prosecution when selling privacy data nationally and internationally.

Standardize breach notification policies nationwide.
Many states have some sort of policy that requires notification of customers that their data has been compromised.  Three leading examples include California , Florida’s Information Protection Act (FIPA) and Massachusetts Standards for the Protection of Personal Information of Residents of the Commonwealth.  New Mexico, Alabama and South Dakota have no data breach protection legislation.  Enforcing standardization and simplifying the requirement for companies to notify customers and employees when a breach occurs will ensure consistent protection no matter where you live or transact.

Invest in increasing cyber-security skill sets.
For a number of years, security professionals have reported an ever-increasing skills gap in the cybersecurity profession.  In fact, in a recent Ponemon Institute report, 57 percent of respondents said a data breach incident could have been avoided if the organization had more skilled personnel with data security responsibilities. Increasingly, colleges and universities are adding cybersecurity curriculum and degrees to meet the demand. In support of this need, the proposed legislation mentions that the Department of Energy will provide $25 million in educational grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and two national labs to support a cybersecurity education consortium.

This proposal is clearly comprehensive, but it also raises the critical question: How can organizations prepare themselves for this privacy legislation?

The International Association of Privacy Professionals conducted a study of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforcement actions.  From the report, organizations can infer best practices implied by FTC enforcement and ensure these are covered by their organization’s security architecture, policies and practices:

  • Perform assessments to identify reasonably foreseeable risks to the security, integrity, and confidentiality of personal information collected and stored on the network, online or in paper files.
  • Limited access policies curb unnecessary security risks and minimize the number and type of network access points that an information security team must monitor for potential violations.
  • Limit employee access to (and copying of) personal information, based on employee’s role.
  • Implement and monitor compliance with policies and procedures for rendering information unreadable or otherwise secure in the course of disposal. Securely disposed information must not practicably be read or reconstructed.
  • Restrict third party access to personal information based on business need, for example, by restricting access based on IP address, granting temporary access privileges, or similar procedures.

The Personal Data Notification and Protection Act fills a void at the national level; most states have privacy laws with California pioneering the movement with SB 1386.  However, enforcement at the state AG level has been uneven at best and absent at worse.

In preparing for this national legislation organization need to heed the policies derived from the FTC’s enforcement practices. They can also track the progress of this legislation and look for agencies such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology to issue guidance. Furthermore, organizations can encourage employees to take advantage of cybersecurity internship programs at nearby colleges and universities to avoid critical skills shortages.

With online security a clear priority for President Obama’s administration, it’s essential for organizations and consumers to understand upcoming legislation and learn the benefits/risks of sharing data. We’re looking forward to celebrating safeguarding data and enabling trust on Data Privacy Day, held annually on January 28, and hope that these tips will make 2015 your safest year yet.

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Data Governance, Transparency and Lineage with Informatica and Hortonworks

Data GovernanceInformatica users leveraging HDP are now able to see a complete end-to-end visual data lineage map of everything done through the Informatica platform. In this blog post, Scott Hedrick, director Big Data Partnerships at Informatica, tells us more about end-to-end visual data lineage.

Hadoop adoption continues to accelerate within mainstream enterprise IT and, as always, organizations need the ability to govern their end-to-end data pipelines for compliance and visibility purposes. Working with Hortonworks, Informatica has extended the metadata management capabilities in Informatica Big Data Governance Edition to include data lineage visibility of data movement, transformation and cleansing beyond traditional systems to cover Apache Hadoop.

Informatica users are now able to see a complete end-to-end visual data lineage map of everything done through Informatica, which includes sources outside Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) being loaded into HDP, all data integration, parsing and data quality transformation running on Hortonworks and then loading of curated data sets onto data warehouses, analytics tools and operational systems outside Hadoop.

Regulated industries such as banking, insurance and healthcare are required to have detailed histories of data management for audit purposes. Without tools to provide data lineage, compliance with regulations and gathering the required information for audits can prove challenging.

With Informatica, the data scientist and analyst can now visualize data lineage and detailed history of data transformations providing unprecedented transparency into their data analysis. They can be more confident in their findings based on this visibility into the origins and quality of the data they are working with to create valuable insights for their organizations. Web-based access to visual data lineage for analysts also facilitates team collaboration on challenging and evolving data analytics and operational system projects.

The Informatica and Hortonworks partnership brings together leading enterprise data governance tools with open source Hadoop leadership to extend governance to this new platform. Deploying Informatica for data integration, parsing, data quality and data lineage on Hortonworks reduces risk to deployment schedules.

A demo of Informatica’s end-to-end metadata management capabilities on Hadoop and beyond is available here:

Learn More

  • A free trial of Informatica Big Data Edition in the Hortonworks Sandbox is available here .
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Data Proliferation Exposes Higher Risk of a Data Breach

Data proliferation has traditionally been measured based on the number of copies data reside on different media. For example, if data residing on an enterprise storage device was backed up to tape, the proliferation was measured by the number of tapes the same piece of data would reside. Now that backups are no longer restricted to the data center and data is no longer constrained by the originating application, this definition is due for an update.

Data proliferation should be measured based on the number of users who have access to or can view the data and that data proliferation is a primary factor in measuring the risk of a data breach. My argument here is that as sensitive, confidential or private data proliferates beyond the original copy, it increases its surface area and proportionally increases its risk of a data breach.

Using the original definition of data proliferation and an example of data storage shown below, data proliferation would include production, production copies used for disaster recovery purposes and all physical backup copies. But as you can see, data is also copied to test environments for development purposes. When factoring in the number of privileged users with access to those copies, you have a different view of proliferation and potential risk.

Data Proliferation_Data Breach Example 1

Data Proliferation of a production sensitive or private data element.

In the example, there are potentially thousands of copies of sensitive data but only a small number of users who are authorized to access the data.

In the case of test and development, this image highlights a potentially high area of risk because the number of users who could see the sensitive data is high.

Similarly with online advertising, the measure of how many people see an online ad is called an impression. If an ad was seen by 100 online users, it would have 100 impressions.

Data Proliferation measured by the total number of potential impressions_Data Breach

Data Proliferation measured as a function of number of users who have access to or can view sensitive or private data.

When you apply that same principal to data security, you could say that data proliferation is a calculation of the number of copies of a data element multiplied by the potential number of users who could physically view the data, or in other words ‘impressions’. In this second image below, rather than considering the total number of copies, what if we measured risk based on the total number of impressions?

In this case, the measure of risk is independent of the physical media the data reside on. You could take this a few steps further and add a factor based on security controls in place to prevent unauthorized access.

This is similar to how the Secure@Source team in Informatica’s newly formed Data Security Group calculates risk which I believe could truly be a game changer in data security industry.

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Announcing the New Formation of the Informatica Data Security Group

The Informatica Data Security Group

The Informatica Data Security Group

The technology world has and continues to change rapidly in front of our eyes. One of the areas where this change has become most obvious is Security, and in particular the approach to Security. Network and perimeter-based security controls alone are insufficient as data proliferates outside the firewall to social networks, outsourced and offshore resources and mobile devices. Organizations are more focused on understanding and protecting their data, which is the most prized asset they have vs all the infrastucture around it. Informatica is poised to lead this transformation of the security market to focus on a data-centric security approach.

The Ponemon Institute stated that the biggest concern for security professionals is that they do not know where sensitive data resides.  Informatica’s Intelligent Data Platform provides data security professionals with the technology required to discover, profile, classify and assess the risk of confidential and sensitive data.

Last year, we began significant investments in data security R&D support the initiative.  This year, we continue the commitment by organizing around the vision.  I am thrilled to be leading the Informatica Data Security Group, a newly-formed business unit comprised of a team dedicated to data security innovation.  The business unit includes the former Application ILM business unit which consists of data masking, test data management and data archive technologies from previous acquisitions, including Applimation, ActiveBase, and TierData.

By having a dedicated business unit and engineering resources applying Informatica’s Intelligent Data Platform technology to a security problem, we believe we can make a significant difference addressing a serious challenge for enterprises across the globe.  The newly formed Data Security Group will focus on new innovations in the data security intelligence market, while continuing to invest and enhance our existing data-centric security solutions such as data masking, data archiving and information lifecycle management solutions.

The world of data is transforming around us and we are committed to transforming the data security industry to keep our customer’s data clean, safe and connected.

For more details regarding how these changes will be reflected in our products, message and support, please refer to the FAQs listed below:

Q: What is the Data Security Group (DSG)?

A: Informatica has created a newly formed business unit, the Informatica Data Security Group, as a dedicated team focusing on data security innovation to meet the needs of our customers while leveraging the Informatica Intelligent Data Platform

Q: Why did Informatica create a dedicated Data Security Group business unit?

A:  Reducing Risk is among the top 3 business initiatives for our customers in 2015.  Data Security is a top IT and business initiative for just about every industry and organization that store sensitive, private, regulated or confidential data.  Data Security is a Board room topic.  By building upon our success with the Application ILM product portfolio and the Intelligent Data Platform, we can address more pressing issues while solving mission-critical challenges that matter to most of our customers.

Q: Is this the same as the Application ILM Business Unit?

A: The Informatica Data Security Group is a business unit that includes the former Application ILM business unit products comprised of data masking, data archive and test data management products from previous acquisitions, including Applimation, ActiveBase, and TierData, and additional resources developing and supporting Informatica’s data security products GTM, such as Secure@Source.

Q: How big is the Data Security market opportunity?

A: Data Security software market is estimated to be a $3B market in 2015 according to Gartner. Total information security spending will grow a further 8.2 percent in 2015 to reach $76.9 billion.[1]

Q: Who would be most interested in this announcement and why?

A: All leaders are impacted when a data breach occurs. Understanding the risk of sensitive data is a board room topic.  Informatica is investing and committing to securing and safeguarding sensitive, private and confidential data. If you are an existing customer, you will be able to leverage your existing skills on the Informatica platform to address a challenge facing every team who manages or handles sensitive or confidential data.

Q: How does this announcement impact the Application ILM products – Data Masking, Data Archive and Test Data Management?

A: The existing Application ILM products are foundational to the Data Security Group product portfolio.  These products will continue to be invested in, supported and updated.  We are building upon our success with the Data Masking, Data Archive and Test Data Management products.

Q: How will this change impact my customer experience?

A: The Informatica product website will reflect this new organization by listing the Data Masking, Data Archive, and Test Data Management products under the Data Security product category.  The customer support portal will reference Data Security as the top level product category.  Older versions of the product and corresponding documentation will not be updated and will continue to reflect Application ILM nomenclature and messaging.

[1] http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2828722

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Anthem Data Breach – Who’s Next?

Peter KuI hate to break the news but data breaches have become an unfortunate fact of life. These unwanted events are happening too frequently that each time it happens, it feels like the daily weather report. The scary thing about data breaches is that these events will only continue to grow as criminals become more desperate to take advantage of the innocent and data about our personal records, financial account numbers, and identities continues to proliferate across computer systems in every industry from your local retailer, your local DMV, to one of the nation’s largest health insurance providers.

According to the 2014 Cost of Data Breach study from the Ponemon Institute, data breaches will cost companies $201 per stolen record. According to the NY Post, 80 million records were stolen from Anthem this week which will cost employees, customers, and shareholders $16,080,000,000 from this single event. The 80 million records accounted for includes the data they knew about. What about all the data that has proliferated across systems? Data about both current and past customers across decades that was copied onto personal computers, loaded into shared network folders, and sitting there while security experts pray that their network security solutions will prevent the bad guys from finding it and causing even more carnage the this ever growing era of Big Data?

Anthem Data Breach – Who’s Next?

If you are worried as much as I am about what these criminals will do with our personal information,  make it a priority to protect your data assets in your lives both personal and in business.  Learn more about Informatica’s perspectives and video on this matter:

Follow me! @DataisGR8

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British Cycling: A Big Data Champion?

Big_Data

British Cycling: A Big Data Champion?

I think I may have gone to too many conferences in 2014 in which the potential of big data was discussed.  After a while all the stories blurred into two main themes:

  1. Companies have gone bankrupt at a time when demand for their core products increased.
  2. Data from mobile phones, cars and other machines house a gold mine of value – we should all be using it.

My main take away from 2014 conferences was that no amount of data is a substitute for poor strategy, or lack of organisational agility to adapt business processes in times of disruption.  However, I still feel as an industry our stories are stuck in the phase of ‘Big Data Hype’, but most organisations are beyond the hype and need practicalities, guidance and inspiration to turn their big data projects into a success.  This is possibly due to a limited number of big data projects in production, or perhaps it is too early to measure the long term results of existing projects.  Another possibility is that the projects are delivering significant competitive advantage, so the stories will remain under wraps for the time being.

However, towards the end of 2014 I stumbled across a big data success story in an unexpected place.  It did (literally) provide competitive advantage, and since it has been running for a number of years the results are plain to see.  It started with a book recommendation from a friend.   ‘Faster’ by Michael Hutchinson is written as a self-propelled investigation as to the difference between world champion and world class althletes.  It promised to satisfy my slightly geeky tendency to enjoy facts, numerical details and statistics.  It did this – but it really struck me as a ‘how-to’ guide for big data projects.

Mr Hutchinson’s book is an excellent read as an insight into professional cycling by a professional cyclist.  It is stacked with interesting facts and well-written anecdotes, and I highly recommend the reading the book.  Since the big-data aspect was a sub-plot, I will pull out the highlights without distracting from the main story.

Here are the five steps I extracted for big data project success:

1. Have a clear vision and goal for your project

The Sydney Olympics in 2000 had only produced 4 medals across all cycling disciplines for British cyclists.  With a home Olympics set for 2012, British Cycling desperately wanted to improve this performance.  Specific targets were clearly set across all disciplines stated in times that an athlete needed to achieve in order to win a race.

2. Determine data the required to support these goals

Unlike many big data projects which start with a data set and then wonder what to do with it, British Cycling did this the other way around.  They worked out what they needed to measure in order to establish the influencers on their goal (track time) and set about gathering this information.  In their case this involved gathering wind tunnel data to compare & contrast equipment, as well as physiological data from athletes and all information from cycling activities.

3. Experiment in order to establish causality

Most big data projects involve experimentation by changing the environment  whilst gathering a sub-set of data points.  The number of variables to adjust in cycling is large, but all were embraced. Data (including video) was gathered on the effects of small changes in each component:  Bike, Clothing, Athlete (training and nutrition).

4. Guide your employees on how to use the results of the data

Like many employees, cyclists and coaches were convinced of the ‘best way’ to achieve results based on their own personal experience.  Analysis of data in some cases showed that the perceived best way, was in fact not the best way.   Coaching staff trusted the data, and convinced the athletes to change aspects of both training and nutrition.  This was not necessarily easy to do, as it could mean fundamental changes in the athlete’s lifestyle.

5. Embrace innovation

Cycling is a very conservative sport by nature, with many of the key innovations coming from adjacent sports such as triathlon.  Data however, is not steeped in tradition and does not have pre-conceived ideas as to what equipment should look like, or what constitutes an excellent recovery drink.  What made British Cycling’s big data initiatives successful is that they allowed themselves to be guided by the data and put the recommendations into practice.  Plastic finished skin suits are probably not the most obvious choice for clothing, but they proved to be the biggest advantage cyclist could get.  Far more than tinkering with the bike.  (In fact they produced so much advantage they were banned shortly after the 2008 Olympics.)

The results:  British Cycling won 4 Olympic medals in 2000, one of which was gold.  In 2012 they grabbed 8 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals.  A quick glance at their website shows that it is not just Olympic medals they are wining – but medals won across all world championship events has increased since 2000.

To me, this is one of the best big data stories, as it directly shows how to be successful using big data strategies in a completely analogue world.  I think it is more insightful that the mere fact that we are producing ever-increasing volumes of data.  The real value of big data is in understanding what portion of all avaiable data will constribute to you acieving your goals, and then embracing the use the results of analysis to make constructive changes in daily activities.

But then again, I may just like the story because it involves geeky facts, statistics and fast bicycles.

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Data Security – A Major Concern in 2015

Data Security

Data Security – A Major Concern in 2015

2014 ended with a ton of hype and expectations and some drama if you are a data security professional or business executive responsible for shareholder value.  The recent attacks on Sony Pictures by North Korea during December caught everyone’s attention, not about whether with Sony would release “The Interview” but how vulnerable we as a society are to these criminal acts.

I have to admit, I was one of those who saw the movie and found the film humorous to say the least and can see why a desperate regime like North Korea would not want their leader admitting they love margarita’s and Katy Perry. What concerned me about the whole event was whether these unwanted security breaches were now just a fact of life?  As a disclaimer, I have no affinity over the downfall of the North Korean government however what transpired was fascinating and amazing that companies like Sony continue to struggle to protect sensitive data despite being one of the largest companies in the world.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, there were 761 reported data security breaches in 2014 impacting over 83 million breached records across industries and geographies with B2B and B2C retailers leading the pack with 79.2% of all breaches. Most of these breaches originated through the internet via malicious WORMS and viruses purposely designed to identify and rely back sensitive information including credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and social security information used by criminals to wreak havoc and significant financial losses to merchants and financial institutions. According to the 2014 Ponemon Institute Research study:

  • The average cost of cyber-crime per company in the US was $12.7 million this year, according to the Ponemon report, and US companies on average are hit with 122 successful attacks per year.
  • Globally, the average annualized cost for the surveyed organizations was $7.6 million per year, ranging from $0.5 million to $61 million per company. Interestingly, small organizations have a higher per-capita cost than large ones ($1,601 versus $437), the report found.
  • Some industries incur higher costs in a breach than others, too. Energy and utility organizations incur the priciest attacks ($13.18 million), followed closely by financial services ($12.97 million). Healthcare incurs the fewest expenses ($1.38 million), the report says.

Despite all the media attention around these awful events last year, 2015 does not seem like it’s going to get any better. According to CNBC just this morning, Morgan Stanley reported a data security breach where they had fired an employee who it claims stole account data for hundreds of thousands of its wealth management clients. Stolen information for approximately 900 of those clients was posted online for a brief period of time.  With so much to gain from this rich data, businesses across industries have a tough battle ahead of them as criminals are getting more creative and desperate to steal sensitive information for financial gain. According to a Forrester Research, the top 3 breach activities included:

  • Inadvertent misuse by insider (36%)
  • Loss/theft of corporate asset (32%)
  • Phishing (30%)

Given the growth in data volumes fueled by mobile, social, cloud, and electronic payments, the war against data breaches will continue to grow bigger and uglier for firms large and small.  As such, Gartner predicts investments in Information Security Solutions will grow further 8.2 percent in 2015 vs. 2014 reaching $76.9+ billion globally.  Furthermore, by 2018, more than half of organizations will use security services firms that specialize in data protection, security risk management and security infrastructure management to enhance their security postures.

Like any war, you have to know your enemy and what you are defending. In the war against data breaches, this starts with knowing where your sensitive data is before you can effectively defend against any attack. According to the Ponemon Institute, 18% of firms who were surveyed said they knew where their structured sensitive data was located where as the rest were not sure. 66% revealed that if would not be able to effectively know if they were attacked.   Even worse, 47% were NOT confident at having visibility into users accessing sensitive or confidential information and that 48% of those surveyed admitted to a data breach of some kind in the last 12 months.

In closing, the responsibilities of today’s information security professional from Chief Information Security Officers to Security Analysts are challenging and growing each day as criminals become more sophisticated and desperate at getting their hands on one of your most important assets….your data.  As your organizations look to invest in new Information Security solutions, make sure you start with solutions that allow you to identify where your sensitive data is to help plan an effective data security strategy both to defend your perimeter and sensitive data at the source.   How prepared are you?

For more information about Informatica Data Security Solutions:

  • Download the Gartner Data Masking Magic Quadrant Report
  • Click here to learn more about Informatica’s Data Masking Solutions
  • Click here to access Informatica Dynamic Data Masking: Preventing Data Breaches with Benchmark-Proven Performance whitepaper
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