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Why IT worry about data ethics

Data may be invisible, but its effect on your business when something goes wrong is all too tangible. As the team that feels most accountable managing data, IT can teach us a great deal about the power of information and how to approach it more ethically.

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? For years, people have quoted George Berkeley’s adage to distance themselves from problems that felt beyond their responsibility. It is this thinking that has brought us today’s challenges around data privacy and security.

IT sits at the centre of the organisation’s data management and has a unique understanding of how to collect, handle, and use information responsibly. This sense of accountability also makes IT more attuned to the ethics of managing data – nearly 50% of IT leaders are highly confident in their organisation’s ethical use of data. For comparison, this figure is just 38% for HR leaders.

Like data security, data ethics has become a business-critical function, and as with any other business-critical function it requires structure. This is where IT can help, galvanising the organisation to be more conscientious and work with data in an integrated way.

This begins with an understanding of who is responsible or accountable for data management and they can contribute, which businesses have struggled with to date. Our research found that only 39% of IT decision-makers feel there is clear ownership and clarity of roles to help them extract insights from data, so there is still some way to go here.

According to our joint Threat Report with KPMG, 92% of cyber leaders are concerned their employees aren’t following data security policies. The same report found phishing is still the most common prevalent crack in their defences. This tells us that companies can try to address external threats with new processes and technology, but it will take a greater focus on ethics and responsibility to truly eradicate them. IT has led the way for years, and now it’s time to get the rest of the organisation on-board.

Read our report to see where companies are focussing their data management efforts and learn more how IT can lead the charge.

 

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