Companies must both protect and leverage user data in 2022

Companies are swimming data. Members of the Fast Company Impact Council—an invitation-only collective of leaders from a range of industries—urged business leaders to protect customer and employee information, even as they extoled the virtues of exploiting data to make companies faster and smarter. Edited excerpts follow:

Frank T. Young, president, vertical market software solutions, Global Payments

“The one big trend I want [raise] is the importance of privacy and information security. It is already enormously important, but the bad actors are not slowing down. Private companies, public companies, universities must work very hard to stay two steps ahead of the fraudsters and the bad actors. And so there has to be massive focus on security, but also on consumer privacy, especially in the U.S., given where we are relative to the rest of the world.”

Dan Streetman, CEO, TIBCO

“My prediction for 2022 is the correlation between the speed of insight and the value of the decision. Those that have invested in the technologies or the processes that’ll help them connect, manage their data, and then drive predictions with that data are going to be the ones that execute and lead, either internally with their own teams or with their customers’ data. But how do we manage these tensions between protecting data and making decisions faster and smarter?”

Jeff Titterton, chief operating officer, Zendesk

“We’re already seeing is companies really investing in data for good.  I’m talking about companies gathering intelligence around their customers to help them through pain points, to proactively understand what’s going right and what’s going wrong so that they can keep ahead customer pain and solve those problems. The same thing applies on the employee side, gathering the right information about your employees, listening to your employees, so that you can proactively understand what’s going on and help them.”

Jay Theodore, chief technology officer, Esri

“The big thing that we are seeing is the recognition that we are all interconnected and we are interdependent. There’s a lot of complexity in some of the problems we are trying to solve. How can technology help solve them? There are massive volumes of data but we don’t use all of it to make our decisions. Technology can help in trying to bubble up the interdependencies and the correlations.

“There’s this thing called the blast radius. I will refer to it as the ‘impact radius.’ I think we’ve come to a phase in life where all our decisions are going have a huge impact, whether it’s positive of negative, and it important for organizations, starting at the the C-suite level, have the right tools to make the right calls.”