On the retail and hospitality industry conference circuit, you’ll often hear data described as the ‘new oil’. The point experts are making is that ownership and access to a wealth of customer information is a hugely valuable commodity in today’s consumer-facing markets, where competition is fierce.
Ownership of customer data and efficient management of it can bring significant marketing power but, as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility. Fraudsters also clearly realise the value of customer data, and as recent high-profile cases have shown, they will stop at nothing to get hold of it. Security of data therefore should be a core strategy for organisations operating in consumer-facing sectors.
To help retail and hospitality businesses protect sensitive information, we’ve highlighted four major threats facing your business when it comes to safeguarding customer data.
Threat 1: Human or technical error
Mistakes happen. No one person or system is infallible. Retailers and hospitality vendors should always remember this and avoid resting on your laurels when it comes to data security.
Companies large and small are increasingly implementing strict customer data policies employees must always adhere to, highlighting the importance they attach to this rich information source. Failure to enforce these procedures can result in leaks, stolen customer details or consumer information ending up in siloes, which limits marketing power.
Threat 2: Hardware & software failure
So many retail and hospitality companies use out-of-date systems and old software, which have the potential to fail with no access to IT support or data retrieval services.
Consider this: your organisation has spent the last year collecting email addresses from customers for a planned marketing campaign, when the system they are held on contracts a virus and all the material is lost. It is a waste of time, money and resources.
Threat 3: Loss/theft of devices
Data loss used to revolve around mislaid paper or documents left on public transport by forgetful employees. Although this still presents a security threat today, the increasingly digital world enterprises now find themselves in brings further dangers. If customer data stored in CRM systems or on other devices gets into the wrong hands, or does not get backed up, retail and hospitality organisations face losing the opportunity to interact with your customers altogether.
In a world where businesses want open communication with your customers, easy access to data is your lifeblood. Without some form of security measures or disaster recovery plan in place, this lifeblood can disappear in a moment – leaving you with missing information, and a PR disaster on your hands.
Threat 4: Security breaches
The British Retail Consortium says 53% of retail fraud now exists online, with theft of consumer data and other criminal activity costing the industry around £100 million in 2016. And that figure does not include statistics related to the hospitality sector, where similar issues are faced.
Major data breaches – and there have been prominent global organisations that have fallen victim to this activity in the last few years – can be costly in terms of damage to a company’s margins and their reputation.
To use the ‘data is oil’ analogy again, companies want a constant flow of customer information into your business – it’s crucial to what you are trying to achieve. But a leak, loss or malfunction can have far-reaching consequences for organisations and all of those around them.
Therefore, a major priority for your business this year should be to invest in essential ‘safety nets’ to prevent the loss, theft or compromise of critical business information. Vodat International offers a range of disaster recovery and data back-up solutions for retail business and hospitality companies operating around the world.
Why not get in touch with our team today to find how our solutions can protect your business – and your valued customers?