The Benefits of Being Frugal With Data

In today’s digital age, enterprises are generating and processing more data than ever before. One estimate stated that 1.7 MB of data was created every second for every person on earth. With the amount of data in the world said to double every two years, we’ve far surpassed that estimate by now.

The massive amounts of data that enterprises have access to can be valuable assets for companies when managed well. We tend to want to save all data since it may be valuable in the future. After all, this data provides insights into customer behavior, shines a light on emerging market trends, and offers opportunities for personalization that most companies would have only dreamed of a few short years ago. On the flip side, data can also be a massive liability for companies if they try to retain too much of it or it is not managed properly.

Datensparsamkeit: Keep What You Need, and Nothing More

One approach that we’ve found helps clients successfully frame their approach to data management and retention is to adopt the principle of Datensparsamkeit, which is a German term that roughly translates to “data frugality.” This principle states that organizations should only retain the data they absolutely need and nothing more.

There are a number of benefits to adopting a Datensparsamkeit approach. First, it can help to protect the privacy of individuals. Second, it can reduce the risk of data breaches. Third, it can reduce storage and security costs. By being more selective about the data they retain, organizations can improve their privacy, security, and bottom line.

Considerations Around What Data to Keep and What to Discard

One of the key challenges of data management is determining what data to retain. There are a number of factors to consider, including the following:

  • Legal requirements: Some data must be retained for legal reasons, such as to comply with regulation or to document business transactions.
  • Business needs: Other data may be needed for business purposes, such as to provide customer support or to track product usage.
  • Privacy concerns: Organizations must also consider the privacy implications of retaining data. In some cases, it may be necessary to delete data to protect the privacy of individuals.

The “keep-it-all” approach to data management is neither sustainable nor advisable. It’s not financially feasible to retain all of the data that is generated by an enterprise and, even if it were, in many cases the downsides to trying to retain everything far outweigh the upsides. Instead, DMG recommends that organizations take a selective, strategic approach to the data they retain.

Putting Datensparsamkeit Into Practice

As you figure out what the most critical data is for your company to retain, here are some additional tips and questions you can ask to help determine what is kept and what gets discarded:

  • Consider the purpose of the data. What will the data be used for? Is it needed for a specific purpose? To cite one example, do you really need to keep the IP addresses of all website visitors or people who are logged into your site forever? If so, how will you use that data to improve customer experience?
  • Potentially summarize and delete data outside the value timeframe.  How long is data valuable? At what point is it more of a risk than a benefit? At what point does granular data lose its value, and summarized data is sufficient? Consider how you might update corporate data retention policies and schedules to ensure that data gets purged upon reaching the point where the risks outweigh the benefits.
  • Evaluate the risk of data breaches. How likely is it that the data could be breached? If the risk is high and there’s personally identifiable information in the data set, what is the benefit to keeping that data?
  • Consider the cost of storage and security. How much does it cost to store and secure the data? If the cost is high and there’s no obvious use case for the data, why are you paying to store it?

By following these tips and thinking through these questions, organizations can make informed decisions about what data to retain. This will help to protect the privacy of customers, reduce the risk of data breaches, and save money in the long run.

Data management is a complex and challenging task. However, by adopting a Datensparsamkeit approach, organizations can make it easier to manage their data and protect the privacy of individuals.

Need help determining which data is mission critical for your organization? Reach out for a complimentary consultation today.