Week after week, we’ve gotten used to news media reports about ever-more jaw-dropping data breaches. The breach at the credit reporting firm Equifax is just the latest, and so far highest-profile reminder that more than 5 million personal records are lost or stolen every day.

SwissCognitiveEach breach costs companies on average $3.6 million. CEOs have lost their jobs and reputations , and CSOs wake up each morning dreading the news that personal customer data is in the hands of hackers. It wasn’t always like this. Twenty years ago, cyber-related threats barely cracked the top 10 security threats facing U.S. companies, let alone data-specific threats. And historically, a company’s primary concern about its data related to governance and compliance, not security.

When we recently asked the VP of IT security for a Fortune 1000 company what his approach to data security was, his response was simply “I wish I knew; it’s not my job. It’s critically important for us to be engaged, but I only get informed after the fact.” Such responses are depressingly common in an industry that is only just grasping the full impact of data security on their business. This is the first of a series of posts in which we explore “data friction” that results when security constraints inhibit the ability to satisfy the data needs of the business.

The Growing Value of Data

In today’s software economy, data has become one of a company’s most important assets. Consumers expect personalized experiences that businesses can only deliver by gathering, analyzing, and managing data at scale. That data can be used to drive new insights, decisions, and strategies throughout the business.

The imperative to collect and store more information about customers creates a feedback loop that’s not always virtuous. Data is stored in more places than ever before, and it contains more personal information than ever before. Both sides of the business equation derive potential benefits: Companies offer a better experience, and sell more products or services; Customers are more loyal and/or engaged, and then buy more of those products and services. […]