Kulani Likotsi – Head of Data Management and Data Governance at Standard Bank South Africa, talked about how leaders must have a clear understanding of the company’s business strategic objectives, and data-driven insights and AI-enabled business solutions should support decisions.
Leaders in distributed systems must ensure data security, data quality, and compliance with evolving privacy laws to achieve enterprise-wide digital transformation success. Encryption algorithms must be adopted, access management established, firewalls implemented, and tools that monitor and maintain data quality employed. It is essential to educate those with access to sensitive data on data privacy and ensure the right processes and technology are in place, says Kulani Likotsi.
Ahead of her session at Velocity – Data and Analytics Summit – taking place in South Africa on March 07-08, 2023, Likotsi spoke about improving security in distributed systems and data compliance in BFSI.
Excerpts from the interview;
What advice would you give leaders to improve security in distributed systems?
One of the goals of a distributed system is to simplify the process for users to access remote technology resources and share them with other users in a controlled manner. As leaders, we must be aware of our data, where it is stored, who has access to it, and how secure the environment is. With the increasing prevalence of cyber-attacks and data breaches, encryption algorithms must be adopted to protect data in transit and at rest, and firewalls must be put in place to limit access to specific ports and cables. Businesses should work with the IT Security Office or Cyber Security Office to establish tailored security controls. Additionally, data access management should be established to continuously monitor, maintain, and ensure the right roles have access to systems and data. Reviewing how data is shared internally and externally with third parties is also important. It is essential to exercise shared responsibility requirements with the organisation and the third parties it partners with to avoid threat exposure by implementing mitigating controls. Finally, organisations should continuously monitor their security posture against global security trends to ensure they have the latest controls to avoid cyber-attacks and data breaches.
How can data leaders help measure the success of enterprise-wide digital transformation?
To have measurable success in digital transformation, leaders must clearly understand the company’s business strategic objectives, and data-driven insights and AI-enabled business solutions should support decisions. Enhancing agility and speed of execution in business is integral to achieving this success, as is ensuring that customer experience is improved and digital investment returns are positive. To do so, businesses must implement enhanced processes that meet digital transformation requirements and reliable supporting technology.
What are the key considerations when investing/ building solutions for your technology stack?
Start with the business objective or business case in mind. Ask yourselves what business problem you are trying to solve. It is important to involve the right stakeholders upfront when making decisions about the technology stack, such as IT, Business, Data, Finance, and Human Resources representatives. The business case will help guide which technology stack is necessary. Technology should be chosen in order to enable business solutions. Remember to find scalable technology within the company’s requirements and future growth opportunities. Leaders consider technology that is a future fit for the organisation, as it is expensive to change technology often. Ensure that there is seamless integration between the new and existing technology stacks. Continuously review and maintain the technology stack to ensure it is still relevant to the business strategy and meeting customer needs. Invest in staff support and training to maximise the technology stack and ensure the company has the right skill set.
What advice would you give leaders setting up systems to identify data quality issues?
Get executive sponsorship or buy-in on how data is an enterprise asset, driving the importance of data quality and how accurate data can enable better decision-making. Develop processes regularly assessing and maintaining data quality inconsistencies, ensuring data governance policies and procedures are followed. Always focus on fixing data quality at its source to maintain a single version of the truth and avoid the need for data clean-up downstream. Lastly, invest in tools that can help manage data quality.
How can technology leaders in the BFSI industry ensure data compliance in an evolving landscape of privacy laws?
Practically implement and embed as much as possible data compliance requirements using technology. For instance, encryption can act as a powerful tool for protecting privacy. Ensure data is protected in transit and at rest to avert data breaches and cyber-attacks. Incorporate data subject rights considerations, data ethics, and responsible AI into the design of customer solutions. Educate all those with access to sensitive and confidential data on the importance of data privacy and how it applies. Execute the retention and destruction of data that is no longer necessary in accordance with business and legal rules to satisfy privacy laws.
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