Companies must have top-down approach to data protection, says tech expert

by NG MIN SHEN/ graphic by MZUKRI

DATA governance must be carried out through a top-down approach for companies to successfully protect their data and subsequently, their brand reputations, according to a veteran technology entrepreneur.

TM Forum global ambassador for big data analytics, customer experience management (CEM) and smart cities Prof Paul Morrissey said it is imperative for organisations to self-regulate their data at the core as brand protection can disappear overnight with a single data breach.

“It’s not something that happens in the analytics department, it’s something that happens at the C-level of a business. It’s got to be consumed throughout the business, not just in certain departments or at a certain level.

“The reputation of companies can be killed overnight with data breaches. So, you need to protect your data to protect your business,” he said at a briefing on Axiata Group Bhd’s upcoming Urbanlytics 2019 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Morrissey said data breaches in the UK and Europe are often dealt with by an independent regulator, but most organisations, including in Malaysia, also govern their own data.

“I think most organisations have self-regulation to the point that they don’t need external regulation, but both of these things need to happen in parallel,” he added.

Malaysia has witnessed a fair share of data breaches in recent times. The latest being at Malindo Airways Sdn Bhd, of which the company confirmed last Wednesday that millions of passengers’ personal data were leaked online.

CIMB Group Holdings Bhd’s online credit card system and banking app, CIMB Clicks, experienced “technical issues” earlier this month, although group CEO Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Aziz was reported as saying the bank’s systems were not hacked.

Last month, Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd suffered its second data breach in 14 months when the company discovered unauthorised access to customers’ MyKad data, although customers’ financial data was not revealed.

Meanwhile, Axiata Analytics Centre head Pedro Uria-Recio said the number of data professionals in Malaysia is growing, which bodes well in an increasingly connected world where making sense of data is a success differentiator.

“One good thing about Malaysia is that compared to countries nearby, we have a number of universities providing masters and degree programmes in data science, which is not the case in Indonesia and other countries around here,” he said.

Uria-Recio said currently, Malaysia has 11 data scientists for every billion US dollars of GDP, while Thailand and Indonesia have eight and three respectively.

“We’re still far behind Singapore at 33 data scientists per billion US dollars of GDP, but Malaysia is certainly a powerhouse in data analytics in the region.

“We are (also) not that far from the US and UK, which have 16 and 18 respectively,” he added.