Protegrity, a global leader in data security, today announced findings from new research, the 2021 Data Security & AI Trends Study, about enterprise executives’ data-security priorities for 2021. The majority (71 percent) of respondents reported their organization’s data and AI timelines have accelerated since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with one in four reporting their data initiatives have significantly accelerated. When asked their organization’s top data-security priorities for the next six-to-12 months, 72 percent of respondents cited the need to speed up their ability to use secure data for AI and advanced analytics initiatives.
Findings from more than 600 executives in the U.S. – including 382 security and privacy executives and 228 data and AI executives – reveal key insights on the impact of data-security investments on AI and advanced analytics initiatives. Comparison between the two executive audiences found that data and AI executives were more likely to cite the need to accelerate their ability to use secure data for AI (78 percent) compared to privacy and security executives (69 percent).
“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, enterprises have undergone a dramatic acceleration of digital transformation, cloud, and AI initiatives,” said Rick Farnell, president and CEO of Protegrity. “However, as data proliferates across the business, organizations must have tools and policies in place to properly identify and secure any sensitive information. According to our research, executives understand that effective data security can not only protect a brand’s reputation in the event of a data breach, but can also speed up their ability to innovate with secure data for mission-critical AI and analytics.”
Data-security Investment on the Rise
Recent Gartner research found that unlike some information-security segments, the pandemic accelerated growth for cloud security and data security in 2020, with cloud-security spending projected to increase 33 percent over 2019. These findings were further validated by Protegrity’s research, which indicated that more than nine in 10 businesses plan to increase their data-security investments in 2021. The top data-security investments planned for 2021 include cloud data security (67 percent), training for employees (54 percent), and data security for SaaS environments (50 percent).
Amid strong interest in data-security investments, some respondents cited potential implementation barriers. These include the excessive amount of time required to deploy new data-security technologies (47 percent), insufficient employee skills to implement new data-security technologies (39 percent), and budgetary constraints (39 percent). Privacy and security executives were more likely (42 percent) to cite insufficient skills as a barrier to data-security implementation than data and AI executives (35 percent).
Despite potential implementation challenges, many organizations anticipate significant benefits as a result of a greater investment in data-security technology and practices. Interestingly, the most widely agreed-upon benefit of data security was improved customer experience, as cited by 70 percent of respondents. Additional anticipated benefits include reduced financial risk due to a data breach (64 percent), reduced reputational business risk due to a data breach (61 percent), and a greater ability to utilize secure data for AI and advanced analytics initiatives (59 percent). Data and AI executives were more keenly aware (69 percent) of data security’s potential impact on AI and analytics timelines than their security and privacy counterparts (54 percent).
Employee Skills, Budgetary Constraints Cited as Potential Cloud Barriers
Businesses are quickly turning to the cloud to achieve faster analytics results at scale. In fact, according to Gartner, end-user spending on public cloud services is projected to increase by more than 18 percent in 2021 to total $304.9 billion. Protegrity’s 2021 Data Security & AI Trends Study further validates this projection, with nine out of 10 executives surveyed planning to increase cloud usage or migrate new data to the cloud in the next 12 months.
When asked what barriers they anticipate to increased cloud adoption, 39 percent of executives cited insufficient employee skills to properly move data to cloud environments, followed closely by budgetary constraints (38 percent), and the risk of unsecured data in transit to the cloud being breached (38 percent). Other potential barriers to cloud adoption include compliance with privacy regulations (26 percent) and reliance on on-premises environments (24 percent).
With Emerging Data Privacy Regulations, Compliance Concerns Abound
In recent years, a number of industry- and country-specific privacy regulations have emerged, which have significantly impacted how businesses use and protect their data. In response to these new and evolving laws, 55 percent of surveyed executives identified compliance with data-privacy regulations as a top priority for the coming year. Additionally, 76 percent of executives reported they are concerned about the impact that new, state-specific data privacy regulations – such as California’s CCPA and Virginia’s CDPA – will have on their organization’s data initiatives.
Farnell continued, “Global enterprises today face a myriad of data-privacy regulations, which will only be compounded by looming regulations that are coming down the pike. This new reality further stresses the need for businesses to protect the privacy of anyone and everyone whose personally identifiable information resides with their corporate data ecosystem. Only then can organizations consistently and reliably make the most of their data while staying in step with compliance both now and in the future.”
Conducted in May 2021, the 2021 Data Security & AI Trends Study research findings are based on the results of an online survey that examined the opinions of 610 U.S.-based executives from enterprise organizations with more than 1,000 employees, including: 382 executives with decision-making authority over data security, information security, and/or privacy; 228 executives with decision-making authority over data analytics, artificial intelligence, and/or machine learning.
Protegrity, a global leader in data security, protects sensitive data everywhere and future-proofs businesses as data-privacy regulations evolve. Maintaining privacy today across distributed data has become impossibly complicated. With Protegrity, enterprises can secure data wherever it resides, control how it’s protected, and have confidence that data is safe, even if a breach occurs. The Protegrity Data Protection Platform is a modern alternative to traditionally complex data-protection methods that leave gaps in security. Whether encrypting, tokenizing, or applying privacy models, Protegrity protects data at the speed of business. Deep integrations with Snowflake, Amazon Redshift, Teradata, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Cloudera, Databricks, and many other enterprise applications ensure that data remains fully protected in hybrid-cloud, multi-cloud, and on-premises environments without performance penalties. The platform’s fine-grained data protection anonymizes personally identifiable information (PII) that’s used in AI and machine learning models, providing faster access to critical analytics data and dramatically shortening the time to business insights. Protegrity protects the sensitive data of more than two billion individuals across global enterprises, including four of the world’s 15 largest banks, four out of 10 of the top health insurance providers, and three of the world’s leading multinational companies. With more than two decades of industry-leading innovation, Protegrity allows businesses to finally tap into the value of their data and accelerate digital transformation timelines – without jeopardizing individuals’ fundamental right to privacy.