Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Data in the Bank

As a professional web developer and a candidate for an International Masters in Business Administration degree I often find myself thinking about the best way to create management information systems with today's technology.  The programming nerd in me wants to create a cloud-based, open-source-based solution with loads of machine learning to help adapt the functionality to clients' wants and needs.  The business wonk in me knows that to do that I need to appeal to what people and businesses really want (a simple, solid information system) by alleviating their fears (data security).

While reading another article about corporate security manager's hesitation in accepting cloud computing solutions that I thought more about the data security aspect.  It's understandable that security-conscious people worry about storing data out of their direct control seeing how it's so vitally tied to the survival of the company.  Losing the information on a key lead or account can mean lost revenues.  Inaccurate human resource information can open a company to legal issues.  Corporate espionage could lead to competitors gaining the lead in a market.  The inability to control easily means that a company will lose money.

It occurred to me though, that the same thing can be said about a company's actual money.  It is the lifeblood of a company just as much the data in a company's servers.  But while a company may feel the need to protect it's data by maintaining its own servers and IT staff, it rarely feels the need to keep its own cash vaults and in-house bankers to protect its money.  What is it that requires data to be secured locally while money can be secured in banks (sometimes even half a world away)?

One argument is that banks, as an industry and institution, have been around much longer than server farms.  Banks have government backing and must adhere to certain rules.  If a bank gets robbed, a certain amount of the funds are insured and can be returned.

Another point is the inherent differences between money and data.  Cash is largely interchangeable with $500,000 lost replaced by any other aggregation of $500,000.  Data on the other hand may be sensitive; it only has value as long it is known by a select group of people.  Data can be changed so that it no longer is an accurate representation of what it was reporting.  Once corrupted, data holds little of the value it once did.

Finally, banks make their customer's money available to them through a variety of means.  There are numerous branches, ATM's, wire transfers, credit/debit cards.  If one of these modes of account access is unavailable there are others to choose from.  On the other hand if company data is stored on outside servers the only way to access it with any immediacy is the internet.  If there's an outage somewhere or a line gets cut a company is out of luck.  Plus a company can go a while without money but can do very little without access to its operating data.

Some of these may seem very obvious, but I list them out because I think that each of these obstacles can be overcome.  The company that provides solutions to these problems will likely ride the wave of next generation business.  My cloud-based, open-source, machine-learning, management information system just might have a chance.

No comments:

Post a Comment