The growth of enterprise data provides new business opportunities for partners

Companies providing a range of data classification, planning services help customers better control IT costs.

Christina Walker

By 2025, more than 200 zettabytes of data will be in cloud storage worldwide, up from 4.4 ZB in 2019 and 44 ZB in 2020, according to Cybercrime Magazine. This global distribution of enterprise data, both in the cloud and on-premises, can provide channel partners with new revenue streams.

Indeed, channel partners with data classification knowledge and experience who understand that it’s not just about controlling corporate data, but also the role they play in business intelligence, business continuity, disaster recovery and security, can expand the potential for new business opportunities. By providing a wider range of data classification services, partners will be able to help their customers leverage public cloud consumption-based pricing and better control IT costs through better optimization and more strategic planning of storage.

In 2006, British mathematician Clive Humby said, “Data is the new oil.” With data powering the operations of entire organizations (and industries), this phrase is more relevant today than ever. However, like oil, data must be refined to be valuable – this is where data classification best practices come in. One of the most important steps a business can take from a data management perspective is prioritizing data classification, or the process of categorizing data in order to store, sort, and retrieve it for future use.

While data classification is a rich area of ​​opportunity for the channel, it requires a deep understanding of industry-specific customer requirements, workflow and IT operations, which partners can address through consulting and technology integration.

Classification best practices

Data classification best practices should first verify the data to be included in classification and access definitions based on industry- or country-specific regulations, standards, and compliance mandates—including GDPR, PCI-DSS, CCPA, and etc.

Once the important issue of regulatory compliance is resolved, companies can move on to the “nuts and bolts” of data classification, with peer consultation and support, in the following five areas:

  • Identification and defining sensitive and highly valued data.
  • Discovery where the data is located and who has access to it.
  • Classification and defining data based on its value to the customer organization and assigning classification levels.
  • Alignment the right security controls and measures to ensure integrity.
  • Monitoring regularly as a component of security controls for data management best practices.

Building a successful data classification service offering

Enterprises have many competing priorities, but partners can play an important role in helping to increase the importance of data classification, which can become problematic if not regularly maintained.

Channel partners and service providers looking to create data classification program offerings should prioritize value-added packages that combine education, guidance and advice, in addition to helping develop processes that are in keep up with today’s flexible and mobile work ecosystems.

Partners should also educate their customers about the consequences of poorly executed programs, which can include fines or worse.

Effective data classification programs must include the following four components:

  • Advise clients to be proactive and standardize the process early on so they don’t find their business in a compromised position later when resources are wasted on firefighting or additional costs.
  • Encourage corporate customers to involve all key stakeholders to identify and assist in the creation of a policy (if one does not exist) that provides a roadmap for how data should be classified and managed, defining ownership, enforcement and accountability for the process.
  • Use it the latest and greatest technologies to help companies comply with internal policies by automating the process as much as possible. This is where the Request for Proposals (RFP) and Proof of Concepts (POC) come into play, steps that will require additional resources.
  • Educate customers to avoid the accumulation of redundant, obsolete and trivial (ROT) and unclassified data indefinitely. ROT data not only takes up valuable server space and increases related energy costs, but also threatens enterprise security and leads to the negative impact of cyber waste on the environment.

There is no better time for channel partners and service providers to expand their offerings to accommodate their customers as they struggle to keep up with the massive amounts of data being collected daily.

The ability of businesses to derive greater value from information through data mining and analysis is critical to strategic business decision making, making data classification best practices even more important. Not only are service providers well-positioned to help their customers make master data easily accessible, but they can also be trusted partners in risk management and mitigation efforts in an increasingly complex data and privacy regulatory environment.

Christina Walker is global director of channel and program sales at Blanco. She manages Blancco’s channel sales team and overall partner strategy and ensures the program evolves to support the needs of the company’s growing roster of active partners. Follow her LinkedIn and the company at @BlanccoTech on Twitter.

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