Striking a Balance Between Technology and Data Security

John Kirk - Feb 08 2019
Published in: Ask the Experts

This article originally appeared in the December 2018 edition of Mobility magazine.

With Recent Innovations Come New Responsibilities

As every industry struggles to keep up with rapidly evolving technological advancements, they’re also struggling with a barrage of data security concerns that come with them. The world of mobility is no exception. On one hand, recent innovations are making program management easier for mobility managers, providing relocating employees with quicker answers via automated solutions, and putting mountains of real-time data into the hands of relocation management companies and clients alike. On the other hand, the stakeholders involved with these processes find themselves wondering just how we make sure all of that data stays protected.

Big Data and Relocation Technology
Technology is evolving at an exponential rate, providing us with capabilities and insights we had never imagined in the past. For example, companies are now able to send targeted emails to prequalified customers in specific areas; segment their customer populations, making them easier to understand; and easily assess big data at a moment’s notice. This is all thanks to the technology we can put into place to collect that data. When data is collected and stored properly, technology enables relocation management companies and their clients to retrieve key information in real time, and then to analyze data in sets—often called big data—to make better business decisions based on the patterns and associations it reveals.

Specific to mobility, we’re seeing RMCs invest in three primary areas of technology in an effort to improve efficiency, productivity, and awareness.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Because of the global nature of RMCs, virtual assistants and chatbots are becoming a growing area of interest. They provide the ability to automate processes, saving a tremendous amount of time and resources; they provide website visitors with immediate answers in any global time zone; they allow the host company to gather information about the visit; and they can spot trends in inquiries and responses, providing RMCs with valuable information on what visitors are looking for or need. While they’re not replacements for customer service representatives or a human touch, they can be a helpful enhancement and a guaranteed immediate contact during a visitor’s initial website visit, even after hours, when a live employee isn’t available. Best of all, AI isn’t static; it learns and adapts as data is processed over time.

Digitized Mobile Apps and APIs
Digitizing the entire relocation process has great benefits to all stakeholders during a move. In addition to providing an assignee or transferee with immediate access to moving milestones, vendor contacts, and checklists, a relocation/moving app allows both the client and RMC to have a finger on the pulse of every step during every move, in real time, at every stage of the move. This helps to keep all stakeholders on track and on budget, making troubleshooting easier and relocations simpler, easier, and faster. It also allows for the analysis of aggregate data. Integration for any of this is key, so we’re seeing RMC investments in the ability to collect data through application programming interfaces (APIs), which are, put simply, the part of a company’s server that receives requests and sends responses over the internet. Bringing in data through an API allows companies to collect and integrate data into their individual environments and presents a complete picture to mobility professionals about a single relocation or a collection of them.

Predictive Analytics
Predictive analytics is the use of data, algorithms, and machine learning to assess things that have happened in the past and determine what is likely to happen in the future. In the world of mobility, this has significant implications. Imagine being able to predict the likelihood of a successful assignee experience if certain things don’t line up from a tactical perspective, and taking greater control of those factors. As one of many examples, we know that if an assignee doesn’t list his or her home during a suggested time frame or receive an offer within another time frame, the likelihood of that move being completed on time and within budget goes down. There’s also a correlation between assignee satisfaction, as measured in surveys, and these same factors. Predictive analytics allows RMCs to delve into the logistical aspects of aggregate moves, by industry, company size, destination location, etc., then examine those factors and improve the relocation process and experience.

To produce accurate predictions, however, RMCs need to ensure that they’re working with a sufficient amount of clean, accurate data. This comes down to committed investments in training the right people, establishing the right processes, and utilizing the right technology.

Related: A Future Must-Have: Integration of Mobility, Service Provider and HR Databases

Big Data: Big Responsibility
The technologies mentioned above provide significant benefits to RMCs and their clients, but they also come with a hefty responsibility for mobility and technology teams: to ensure security, compliance, and the privacy of the data being collected. Each of these needs should be built into every aspect of the process, from system and process design to the collection and protection of data. Items every RMC and client should keep in mind when securing a data security plan include:

System Design: In addition to engaging its internal cybersecurity team in the design and development of a security system, a company should always follow routine internal auditing processes that examine its design against the standards it’s complying with—and employ the input of external auditors from other industries to ensure a wider perspective and compliance of the highest quality.

People and Processes: Ensuring that your RMC has qualified people, processes, and technology in place is key to a sound data security strategy. In my opinion, people are the biggest part of the equation because, despite an RMC having a security department, security is every staff member’s responsibility.

From the time a relocation counselor handles data to the moment that data is sent out over secure systems, ensuring that people follow procedures and utilize only approved devices and networks is critical.

Employee Training: Employee awareness and training are essential to maintaining the high standards necessary for data security. Teaching them to recognize suspicious email addresses and not to click on unrecognized files or links is a critical part of overall data security.

Maintaining Good “Data Hygiene”: From an IT perspective, making sure systems are up to date and that they’re being regularly patched is paramount. Patches are a set of changes to a computer program or its supporting data that are designed to update, fix, or improve that program. And since these patches have been created to address security vulnerabilities—and people with malicious intentions actively look to take advantage of those vulnerabilities—patches should be implemented regularly to keep a system current and protected from any potential breaches.

Read the rest of this article in the December 2018 edition of Mobility magazine.