Spring is in the air. Flowers are blooming. The days are a little bit longer and brighter. And for some of us, that means we have the yearly impulse to deep clean our homes and offices.
But just like our closets and attics benefit from a good sort-out, so can our digital storage. Far from a simple nice-to-do, cleaning your data can help keep you compliant, safe and organized — especially if you take the time to set up a system that works all year round.
How to Organize Your Data
But for those of you who still think that data organization is only about putting items in the right folders — think again. Data is a valuable resource and, as such, it takes a bit of time and thought to organize it in a way that perfectly fits your, or your customer’s, business.
The first step is to identify all your data sources and assets. If you don’t know what you have, how can you hope to organize it? Once you’ve located all the assets, you can then classify them by their type and purpose.
This classification step is crucial and allows you to clearly define rules for each data class — and yes, that means not all data’s created equal. Of course, the type of data will determine how often you need to access it and thus how you could store it, but you also need to take into consideration regulatory requirements and industry best practices which may require specific storage specifications depending on the type of data you are handling. This deliberate approach to organization is called data management, and it sets the foundation for high-level organizational plans called data strategy.
Choose the Right Storage
Now it’s time to choose the right storage. It may seem like a simple choice between an on-premise server and the cloud, but often different data types demand different solutions. With considerations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other laws, there are certain data, often customers’ personal details, that you need to store more securely than others.
For each type of data, you need to assess it according to a range of criteria including accessibility, reliability, security and access control. At the end of the day, you’ve collected that data to serve a purpose so you need to make sure it is accessible to the right people. That means making it simple to access but also limiting the number of people who can access it. On top of those concerns, you also need to think about the cost of storage, how often you’ll access the data, the level of encryption and even the location of the storage itself.
Once you know what you need, you can easily check if your current storage solutions are adequate and even compare different cloud offerings. We recommend looking for a cloud provider that not only offers all the features and capabilities that fit your specific needs, but also has a strong reputation in security and reliability so you know your data is accessible and safe for whenever you need to access it.
Delete What You Don’t Need
Just like any spring cleaning, to make your data truly organized you’ll need to get rid of information you no longer need. Not only does this reduce the amount of data you need to store but it can also help keep you compliant.
You see, for many regulations (including Europe’s GDPR), you should only keep personal data from either customers or employees for as long as it is needed for the purposes for which it was collected. If you are no longer using it for that defined purpose, it needs to go.
However, it’s important to note that that is a general guideline and that the requirements for call data and call recording retention can vary depending on the industry, the type of data and other factors.
For this reason, make sure you consult with legal counsel and regulatory agencies to ensure that you comply with all relevant laws and regulations. Include it as a vital step in developing a clear data retention policy that considers these factors and still ensures that data isn’t stored longer than necessary.
Once you decide what you need to clear out, it can be more involved than just hitting delete. For sensitive or confidential data, simply deleting a file is not enough to properly remove it from a computer. Instead, you’ll need to use a secure method such as using data wiping software, physical destruction or encryption. You may even find that there are industry-specific regulations that outline a precise method as part of a data destruction policy.
However, not every file should be deleted so carefully. Think of your normal, everyday paper shredder. Some papers can be thrown in the trash, while more sensitive documents need to be shredded or even destroyed more securely. The concept is exactly the same for your digital information, with delete being the equivalent of your normal trash or recycle bin.
Regardless of how you safely dispose of your unwanted files, taking the time to identify and get rid of redundant data will help keep your business compliant and also reduce the risk of data breaches and other security issues.
Reduce What You Collect
Of course, the best way to keep your data neat, tidy and organized is to limit what you collect in the first place. Believe it or not, many organizations have more data than they know what to do with as they collected it in case it could become useful, not because they had a defined role for it. Save yourself the time and hassle. If you don’t have a practical use for it, simply don’t collect it.
This makes it easier for you to process the data you do have and stay in line with regulations. For the GDPR, for example, you can only collect what you have consent for. Why add to the burden of seeking consent for data, if you’re not going to use it? And considering that data can only be used for the intended purpose anyway, it’s not like you can save it for a rainy day.
Instead, consider what your data analysis plan is before collection, so you can ensure you collect high-quality, useful data that is compliant with legal and ethical standards as well as set in place procedures to secure and analyze it appropriately.
Data Management in UC&C
Just like the importance of choosing an appropriate cloud storage provider, make sure you choose a UC&C vendor that is transparent about how their solutions produce, secure and store data. That way if you’re tasked with aligning a customer’s communication solutions with their data strategy plan, you’ll know what adjustments, if any, are needed.
At Wildix, for example, we use Amazon Web Services (AWS) not only for the security and reliability it offers but also for the spread and reach of its global infrastructure so that our end-users’ data isn’t stored half a world away. We also create our products to be secure by design, encrypting data from the point of origin, through travel and storage instead of asking our partners to rely on third-party VPNs or SBCs. Because we know that multiple add-on layers only increase weak points, and the only truly secure method is to include encryption from step one.
However, even if your provider includes similar signs of reliability and security, make sure you also have support that can advise you on how to adjust the settings to your customer’s requirements. Because, as we know, regulations can change and different industries have stricter rules than others. So having a support team, like the one at Wildix, that is ready to help you when you need it is a valuable resource.
Regardless of who you choose to work with, taking the time now to consider the ramifications of your customer’s data storage needs not only sets up their business to succeed but also positions you as a one-stop unified communications specialist. Just like with your own data management efforts, all it takes is a little thought, planning and elbow grease.
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