How Credit Card Breaches Have Taught Retailers New Lessons on Data Management

By Jeff Echols, senior director of product and solutions marketing, CommVault

It may take a series of high-profile security breaches for companies of all shapes and sizes to realize that taking a fragmented approach to managing information is a recipe for disaster.  Learning the hard way has become all too common – and often comes at the consumers’ expense. Examples like Target, Neiman Marcus and TJX serve as painful reminders of what happens when companies don’t marry the business needs of their organization to a holistic information management strategy.

The silver lining is that fear may be the ultimate motivation for change for everyone on the sidelines. Adopting an effective information management strategy is no longer a “nice-to-have”; it’s “a must-have” for all data-driven companies where long-term retention and protection of data is paramount to their organization’s survival and growth.

Simply checking the box on storing data is not enough, especially given the challenges inherent in accessing and analyzing information that is scattered and duplicated across multiple systems. This data should be the common denominator across all internal stakeholders, including marketing, sales, customer service, legal & compliance officers and more. Protecting this information requires collaboration in the interest of making sure the data is safe, secure and retrievable.

Preventing these issues from happening again starts with a modern approach to data protection and information management, where data can be efficiently collected, securely stored and quickly searched to meet today’s evolving compliance requirements.

Let's face it – data is going to continue to grow with no end in sight, and there simply isn't enough time, resources or budget that retailers can allocate to manage, protect, index and retain massive amounts of data using legacy methods and tools. It is imperative that retailers take a new approach to data management in an effort to transform the way information is stored and processed to increase efficiency, enhance business agility and reduce risk.

Failing to implement a holistic data management approach can affect a retail company in a variety of ways:

• Loss of customers and investors.
• Weakened sales.
• Drop in stock price.
• Decline in competitive rankings.
• Negative brand reputation.

Retail organizations must think of new ways to protect, manage and access their business information to deliver better service, stay relevant and thrive in a highly-competitive space. To do so, the proper technology must be in place to ensure business-critical data is secure and accessible in real time. This allows key stakeholders within a company to re-purpose the data, find it in seconds, and gain more use and value from the stored information. Access to all current and historical data created by an organization empowers workers with compliance search, data mining and reporting.

Not only will the adoption of a holistic data management approach enable retailers to market more intelligently, sell more effectively and operate more efficiently, it will also help ensure the job security of other Fortune 500 CIOs.

High-profile retailers, or those that aspire to be on the same playing field, should keep a close eye on how data is managed within their organization. Security and IT should be intrinsically linked. Although Target’s recent security breach could have been avoided, revamping its security structure and hiring a chief compliance officer shows the company is taking the right steps.

As the retail world continues to become more and more complex, with new channels and new data to master, it will be telling which players place a high priority on data management. Retailers that embrace a holistic approach will have a long-lasting market advantage, regardless of coming trends, and avoid catastrophes like data breaches and recalls, keeping their name clean, and out of the spotlight.

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