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Mastering Data Classification: Crucial Steps for Enterprise Success

BY KEVIN COPPINS
October 18, 2023

Discovering and classifying data accurately is crucial for successful data management, security, compliance, and operational efficiency within any organization. 

When data is properly classified and managed, it can be used to uncover actionable insights, trace security incidents, monitor system functionality, and comply with relevant regulations—all critical components of enterprise success in a digital world.  

However, many organizations struggle to manage the proliferation of data effectively; without a sound approach to classifying data across their systems they risk not only failing to make use of these valuable resources but also putting themselves at risk from potential cyber threats.  

Let’s break it down: here are ten key enterprise initiatives where getting “step one” of mastering data classification is absolutely essential.  

  1. Regulatory Compliance: Many industries are subject to strict regulations regarding data privacy and security, such as GDPR, HIPAA, or CCPA.  

    Why is this important: Accurate classification ensures that sensitive information is properly handled and protected in compliance with these regulations. 
  1. Data Security: Properly classifying data helps in identifying sensitive information.

    Why is this important: This allows organizations to implement appropriate security measures like encryption, access controls, and monitoring to safeguard this data from unauthorized access or breaches. 
  1. Risk Management: Accurate classification enables organizations to identify and assess the potential risks associated with different types of data. 

    Why is this important: This helps in prioritizing security measures and allocating resources effectively to protect the most critical information 
  1. Data Governance: Data governance involves establishing policies and procedures for managing data throughout its lifecycle. 

    Why is this important: Accurate classification is fundamental for effective data governance, as it ensures that data is managed, stored, and disposed of in accordance with organizational policies. 
  1. Data Quality and Integrity: Properly classified data can lead to improved data quality and integrity

    Why is this important: When data is classified, it’s easier to identify inconsistencies, errors, or discrepancies, allowing for timely correction and maintenance. 
  1. Resource Allocation: Knowing the types and importance of data helps organizations allocate resources appropriately. 

    Why is this important: More resources might be invested in securing highly sensitive information compared to less critical data. 
  1. Comprehensive Search and Retrieval: Accurate classification makes it easier to search for and retrieve specific data. 

    Why is this important: This is particularly crucial in large datasets where finding specific information quickly is essential. 
  1. Data Migration and Integration: When organizations are migrating data to new systems or integrating data from different sources, accurate classification ensures that data is mapped and transferred correctly. 

    Why is this important: This preserves the data’s integrity and relevance. 
  1. Reputation Management: Mishandling or exposing sensitive data can lead to reputational damage for organizations.

    Why is this important: Accurate data classification reduces the risk of such incidents, contributing to maintaining trust with customers and stakeholders. 
  1. Efficient Data Lifecycle Management: Different types of data have varying lifecycles

    Why is this important: Accurate classification enables organizations to apply appropriate retention and disposal policies, reducing data storage costs and potential legal liabilities. 

Ultimately, accurate data discovery and classification (Step One, again!) play a major role in the success of many essential enterprise initiatives. By properly identifying and classifying diverse types of data from the outset, it enables organizations to gain better insights into their operations quickly and efficiently.  

This allows them to make more informed decisions about which data needs to be protected, how to best comply with regulations, and how to optimize utilization of resources.  

What’s more, being able to accurately search for any relevant data needed further helps organizations boost productivity levels.  

Making sure that “step one” is taken care of correctly should thus be a priority point for many enterprises. Doing so will ensure that all downstream processes are maximized without hiccups or roadblocks along the way.  

So, take the necessary steps now to get your organization on track with accurate data discovery and classification – your future self will thank you!