Survey Says: Data Innovation Often Slowed by Compliance and Other Tech Concerns

June 23, 2021
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We always want to know how organizations are aligning data-driven progress with the strengths and constraints of their technologies.

That’s why we surveyed more than 600 executives in the U.S., including 382 security and privacy executives and 228 data and AI executives, to understand how we can continue to safeguard data as businesses continue to explore new, and not-so-new, technologies.

No one more intimately understands the genuine challenges facing businesses than the people in offices, cubicles, production floors, and meeting rooms. They recognize, more than anyone, the hurdles that need to be consistently cleared to innovate, market and sell products and services, and understand customers’ needs.

Our survey not only outlines how data security specifically affects their AI and advanced analytics ambitions and other data-based initiatives, but it also anticipates how industries at large plan to balance innovation and data protection.

Consider this widely held sentiment among the surveyed professionals: 72 percent of them cited the need to speed up their ability to use secure data for AI and advanced analytics initiatives. It almost goes without saying that without secure data, you can’t drive business value from the insights delivered by AI and analytics.

The people who depend on data in their day-to-day and long-term work realize the importance of secure AI, even more so than those who strictly handle security. Our survey showed that 78 percent of data and AI executives want to speed up their organizations’ abilities to use secure data for AI, whereas 69 percent of privacy and security executives had that priority.

Data Security Viewed as Necessary 

There’s an underlying cause behind this desire to move fast. Seventy-one of the executives said their organization’s data and AI initiatives have accelerated since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which uprooted the ways of work and led many organizations to realize employees can create, develop, manage, and perform functions just as effectively from home as in an office. That new paradigm carries a cost, however. Even before the pandemic, employees were accessing data and applications on mobile devices, but now, more than ever, they are stretching their employers’ defense perimeters beyond corporate walls. That’s why data needs to be protected everywhere it travels: in on-premises systems and cloud-based applications and databases.

Recent Gartner research found that unlike some information-security segments, the pandemic accelerated growth for cloud security and data security in 2020, with cloud-security spending projected to increase 33 percent over 2019. 

The executives we surveyed agree with Gartner: more than nine in 10 of their businesses plan to increase data-security investments this year. Their top data-security investments include cloud data security (67 percent), training for employees (54 percent), and data security for SaaS environments (50 percent). 

For some, though, investment doesn’t always mean easy implementation. Despite have strong interest in pursuing data-security technologies, hurdles get in the way:

• 47 percent believe an excessive amount of time is required to deploy new data-security technologies.

• 39 percent think their employees have insufficient skills to implement the technologies. 

• And, of those who worry about the skills gap, 42 percent were privacy and security executives, while 35 percent were data and AI executives.

A bigger elephant in the room is compliance. With more governments passing or crafting data-privacy regulations, and with existing ones already calling for stringent adherence, many executives want to get it right: 55 percent of the executives Protegrity surveyed said compliance with data-privacy regulations is a top priority for the coming year. Additionally, 76 percent of them said they are concerned about the impact that new, state-specific data privacy regulations—such as California’s CCPA and Virginia’s CDPA—will have on their organizations’ data initiatives.

An Answer to Innovation Worries

Compliance indeed tends to paralyze innovation. Share data too freely, without regard to data-privacy regulations, and a business will eventually find itself the focus of regulators and disappointed customers and partners. Hold data too tightly and a business will eventually find itself losing ground to data-driven competitors.

We have an answer to that Catch-22. By listening to our customers over the past two decades, we’ve created solutions that solve the critical challenges of safeguarding data and keeping individuals’ sensitive information private. We have an effective, comprehensive data-protection platform that relieves the burden of compliance by continuously classifying and discovering data so that sensitive data within the scope of regulations does not go undetected.

We certainly understand the concerns of the executives we surveyed and many others. But we believe that once organizations take advantage of a data-protection platform that future-proofs for regulations and lets them choose how they safeguard data, they will pursue AI and other data-driven applications without worry and benefit from data-centric innovation.