The beauty of the Internet-connected marketplace is that even the smallest startup can compete on the global stage. And falling IT costs means that your business has access to enterprise-grade systems, similar to those used by your largest competitors. But there’s a problem – you have greater access to your competitor’s customers, but they also have greater access to yours.
Your data is the difference
Ultimately the only real advantage your business has (beyond providing an exceptional level of customer service), is the data you own. How you use that data, identifying new opportunities, defining new services and targeting new customer segments, is how you can best establish and maintain a competitive advantage.
The Cloud offers a range of useful services and applications to help you extract additional insights from your data, usually at far lower cost than investing in a similar system for onsite data analysis. However it is extremely important to consider how your data is protected against loss, theft or corruption.
Protecting your data at all costs
Protection and security must be one of your foundational concerns when using your data. If you plan to make use of Cloud services, always check to see what kind of data protection provisions are included along with your subscription. You will also need to put your own data backup regime in place to ensure that you have a copy of data stored somewhere locally so that you are covered in the event of something going wrong at the service provider’s datacentre.
Never forget that when you are dealing with personal information belonging to your customers or employees, the data protection laws in some countries (such as the UK’s Data Protection Act 1998), place the onus for keeping those records safe from loss, theft or corruption on you, not on the Cloud provider.
Onsite data provisions
Your local data backup regime will vary according to your company processes, the volumes of data in question and the resources you have available. Ideally this system will keep an up-to-date copy of your data on a device that can be taken offsite, protecting against a local disaster that could take your office out of action.
Traditionally businesses relied on backup tapes, but the increasing volumes of data that need to be protected means that removable hard drives are a much more efficient option. You can copy data onto the hard drive each day, taking it home at the end of the day. In the event that the Cloud provider fails, you will be able to restore from backup and be back up and running in a matter of hours.
It also pays to have a final backup plan in place. If both Cloud service provider and your local backup fail, you will need some way of extracting data direct from the hard drives. Make sure you have a contact number for professional hard drive recovery services who will be able to help in an emergency.
Data protection is vital to your business future. Losing your most valuable asset leaves your startup unable to compete in the global marketplace – assuming the associated data protection fine doesn’t financially cripple you first.