Data is a liability, not an asset

Programmers know it, management reject it: code is a liability, not an asset.

Code is something you have to pay to maintain, to debug, to document and keep up to date.

But this is doubly true of data. The largely unfulfilled promises of big data have lured businesses into storing ever-growing quantities of data -- data that has to be stored and protected and backed up. Data that, when it leaks, incurs titanic potential liability to the firm.

On the proverbial business end of a big data operation, different viewpoints appear. As with code, more data makes things more difficult. When the amount of data gets truly big, so do the problems in managing it all. IDC estimates that big data companies will sell $125 billion worth of solutions to those problems in 2015 alone. These direct costs are huge, but they are dwarfed by inherent risks in storing unbound amounts of private user data.

Regulatory compliance is a factor that big corporations, publishers among them, may be uniquely suited to tackle, but the business risks of storing data are manifold. Nobody wants to be the next Ashley Madison, but the even bigger risk is breaking the trust of users in more mundane ways.

Here’s a hard truth: regardless of the boilerplate in your privacy policy, none of your users have given informed consent to being tracked. Every tracker and beacon script on your web site increases the privacy cost they pay for transacting with you, chipping away at the trust in the relationship.

Data is not an asset, it’s a liability [Marko Karppinen/Richie]

(Image: database, RRZEicons, CC-BY-SA; Auto Mutilation,
Photocapy, CC-BY-SA