Monday, 29th November 2021
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How businesses can gain better control of their data

By Dale Murray, CEO at SalesAgility.

Data is the new currency for growing companies. Businesses today more than ever are collecting and analysing their data to maximize customer relationships and gain a competitive advantage. However, despite the associated benefits, there are growing concerns over customer data security and the ethical use of this data.

Centralised systems and the importance of real-time data

Capturing and storing data is vital for growth. It generates rich customer profiles, from which a better understanding of buyer preferences can be determined. These insights are the driving force behind smart business decisions and an effective workforce.

Having this type of business data at your disposal is one thing but being able to sort and make sense of it is another. Yes, data empowers a business, but this data is useless if it cannot be segmented, managed and displayed in a user-friendly way. CRM technology has grown in popularity in recent years as it is designed to do exactly this. But there are further steps companies can take to ensure they have better control of their data and make good business decisions.

Implementing a centralised reporting system allows all customer data to be stored in one place. Working around the clock, built in automation functionality allows data to be managed and updated in real-time. The system will include data pulled in from integrated third-party plugins as well, meaning that you and the rest of your team have access to a full customer picture at all times.

Taking advantage of such a solution will ensure that customer interactions are never missed. Teams will be in a fortunate position to seize every opportunity going forward, which will have a beneficial impact on your business revenue, but, more importantly, customer experiences.

The way businesses gather, process, and distribute customer data is now under the microscope. With various data privacy legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are becoming increasingly present. Modern-day businesses need to strive for better ways to manage this challenge. Inability to do so can cost the company in many respects: large fines, reputational damage, and unsatisfied customers. This creates pressure points around the concept of ‘digital sovereignty and the ownership of data’. Add to this the strain of remote teams where data is being accessed from various locations and businesses could find themselves in real trouble.

Implications of using cloud-based proprietary solutions

A recent trend within the business IT sector has been the surge of businesses seeking to migrate to cloud-based software and systems. With plenty of opportunities for cost saving and indeed a stable business environment playing in their favour, many vendors are choosing to base themselves in the US. This in itself has its own implications.

With more businesses turning to this type of solution every day, our dependency on a small number of large US IT firms has increased. So why is this a risk? Well, different countries have different laws in place regarding the standard of security a business is expected to hold their data to. By outsourcing IT solutions from businesses based in different countries, data protection and digital sovereignty principles are compromised.

By turning to these firms for their software solutions you might want to ask: are you able to remain in control of your precious business data? Do you risk enabling the illegal harvesting of your business data? More importantly, if choosing to go down the proprietary route, can you 100 per cent guarantee the digital sovereignty of your business data for your customers?

Lines can become blurred very quickly when we take this approach, but open source offers an alternative path. A path that allows us to decentralise the web again, taking back control from these large tech firms.

All is not lost and with open source offering this silver-lining alternative, businesses will experience no vendor lock-in and complete freedom. This restores true autonomy to the company. It enables them to make their own decisions about their own data. Whether it be choosing to host their data on premise or in the cloud or deciding to move between vendors or even support themselves, full control and transparency is granted and guaranteed.

Open source vs proprietary software.

The fundamental difference that exists between open source and proprietary software is how the code is treated.

The popularity of open source software has exploded in recent years, with subsequent demand for its components building. In 2018, it was recorded that 21,448 new open source releases were available to developers each day. Furthermore, the 5th edition of Synopsys’ Open Source Security and Risk Analysis (OSSRA) report stated that 70% of code audited by them in 2020 was open source. That statistic has almost doubled in the last 5 years (up from 36% in 2015).

In 1999 Eric Raymond coined the well-known open source motto: “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”. Its code is released to the world and can be accessed by anyone. This is seen as a strength instead of weakness. The software relies on community members and security researchers to review the code and unearth vulnerabilities. Proprietary software couldn’t be more different and depends on any vulnerabilities held within their code to remain unknown. The hope being that in doing so, hackers will avoid targeting them.

Where a vulnerability is found within proprietary software, a fix is created, and a patch is released to all users. However, this can take time, and this is largely down to the closed nature of its code. Vendors of this type of software keep their cards close to their chest. Access to their code is provided to very few. The consequence being that when an issue or vulnerability does arise, they don’t have the same manpower to find it.

Open source is a good alternative offering developers the opportunity to set a high standard of basic security hygiene. With freedom and independence at the core of all things open source, users have the option to choose when to update their software. However, this needs to take priority, as this is the only way to ensure they are best protected. By implementing and utilising the most current versions of their software they dramatically reduce their cyber security risk.

There is a common misconception regarding proprietary software; that by paying higher costs a business is ensuring complete security for their precious business and customer data. This is not the case. Today’s world demands more from its providers than ever before and this cannot come at the cost of increased security risks. The days of buying proprietary software as the ‘norm’ are over. With open source software offering transparent and more affordable solutions for a business’s IT needs, the world is waking up to its benefits.

These are all hugely beneficial outcomes for a business. However, what makes a centralised reporting system, such as an open source CRM, irreplaceable is its ability to protect your business data in a safe and secure environment. Complete compliance can be guaranteed at all times no matter where in the world you are based. You are able to take the wheel and make the software work for you – not the other way around.


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