The Proper Handling of Data

March 16, 2021

Task and duty for everyone!

"Data is the new oil"! Who hasn't heard that saying and thought to themselves, yeah sure, but in my everyday life I don't really care! I have often observed this approach in my immediate environment and my daily work. And I have also found myself being affected by the wrong way of dealing with data in my private life and my business as well.

Pic of a keyboard with a warning sign for data handling
Careless handling of data can have serious consequences for private people as well as in business. Photo © CC0 Licence

My Private Data

With a bit of luck, however, the effects on one's private life are manageable. Thanks to impractical legislation, we have learned to simply click OK on every website so that we don't have to read pages and pages of text on the subject of data use and data protection. We are happy to disclose our personal data online in order to take advantage of "free" offers. However, only a few people are aware that this transforms us from supposed customers into (data) products for many companies. The effect? We freely pay with our data for services that we perceive as free. The risk? Due to the lack of awareness of the value of our data, we enter into "barter deals" in which, on closer inspection, we tend to get off badly. But, true to the motto - "what I don't know won't hurt me" - we usually live quite well with this situation. In the worst case, however, we are digitally defrauded by criminal machinations, robbed or our data is misused in some other way - which is of course extremely annoying and unpleasant for the individuals concerned.

Data in a Business Context

In everyday business life, however, the world looks quite different. The benefits and harms of the correct or incorrect use of data have completely different dimensions. The analogy "data is the new oil" really applies here! Data as a "raw material" can be a source of innovation, improved processes, customer satisfaction, cost efficiency, etc., and can thus provide a vital competitive edge in an incredibly fast-moving age. On the other hand, decisions based on wrong or insufficient data lead to serious wrong decisions, which can sometimes even threaten the existence of the company. Not to mention the risks of data misuse, data theft, etc.

Symbolic pic for safe data
In everyday business, data is immensely more valuable and the implications of being careless with it are even greater. Photo © CC0 Licence

In contrast to private life, the approach "what I don't know won't hurt me" is highly dangerous and negligent in a business context. Anyone who, as a person responsible for a company or division, does not ensure that decisions are made on the basis of clean and correct data, will feel the massive impact of the dynamics of competition in the 21st century. Precondition to that is proper stored, managed and secured data.

So building up knowledge and know-how, whereby theory and practice must go hand in hand, is crucial to company success. Practical training in the field of data science and data governance forms the basis for companies and their employees to meet the challenges of an increasingly digitized era. Thus, know-how in dealing with data is relevant for everyone who has to work with data in some way, which will probably exclude no one in the future. Accordingly, further training in this context is a task and duty for everyone if they want to keep up economically!

For more information about the WU Executive Academy's course portfolio about the topics digitalization and technology, please click here.

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