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Solving big data regulatory hurdles for enterprise

Big data projects are providing enterprises with new insight into how their services are functioning and how they are received.

By John Oates

But they are also hitting regulatory challenges as business models adapt to exploit and monetise the data which they collect. This is becoming a serious revenue stream for car manufacturers – McKinsey Associates predicts data sales will create a market worth between $450bn and $750bn by 2030.

And this is not just about future predictions car makers have been dealing with this issue for decades.

Cars in the US, Europe and Asia have had a digital interface for over 20 years  – the ‘onboard diagnostics port’ which allows mechanics to plug in a cable and scan the car for its emissions history and fault codes.

There are differences between manufacturers but there is free access via open standards to basic information.

There are even various dongles which allow car owners to collect data from their own cars to check performance, fuel consumption and create maintenance schedules.

But the next step for car data will see it collected wirelessly and in real-time.

The fight is starting as to whether this data belongs to the car maker or the car owner and who else should have access to it.

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Thanks to cloud technology and virtual machines and hypervisors this can quite easily be done securely for individual vehicles.

High end sports cars already do this – owners receive an email or text message warning them that onboard systems are reporting an imminent part failure or a service item like brake pads need to be replaced.

But independent garages, fleet managers and other groups want access to that data too.

They argue that, just like current on board diagnostics, there should be shared open standards to give access to data which would be useful to the vehicle owner and offer far cheaper servicing and maintenance.

Controlling access to this data is a crucial business issue for car makers who seek to monetise this new market. They argue the data needs to be kept secure to protect company secrets, to help push vehicle development and to allow them to provide customers with additional services.

But customer groups and fleet operators insist that they should continue to have access to the data which they are creating and which they need to ensure the smooth running of their vehicles.

Regulators in Europe and the US are currently working to find a solution which satisfies all groups.

But this is an issue which will become far more important for all sorts of businesses and industries as data collection becomes more common.

Data regulation is changing to recognise the new world and pay more attention to who owns the information.

The details of this are still being worked out globally. European regulators have tended to give the individual more rights over their data which is held by corporations.

As enterprises begin to view the data they hold as a valuable asset this is a crucial issue for every big data project to consider.

Firstly they must ensure projects are designed around current privacy and data regulation rules.

But they must also create systems with the flexibility to change as rules and attitudes change.

This means databases and analytic tools which can support anonymous, encrypted or depersonalised records. It means ensuring that personal information is only stored where necessary and it is extremely well protected.

There is no reason for this uncertainty to stop enterprises engaging in big data projects. But it is vital that the right permissions are included in contracts and that security and privacy are built in from the very start of any project.

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