Today, every company is a data company. According to a 2018 survey, 95% of Americans own cellphones and 77% own smart phones, while nearly 75% of U.S. adults own computers and approximately 50% own tablets. This number only increases with the younger generation: 97% of Gen Z (those under 23) report having smart phones and accessing their data digitally. This group is also one of the most diverse ever with 48% of those identifying as African American, Latino, Asian or mixed race. They control an impressive $140 billion in consumer spend according to some studies. These are your future customers and employees. They are digitally savvy and have expectations for your company. People have constant, immediate access to data and make data-based decisions daily all while creating new and important data trails themselves. Your company (“you”), therefore, should consider looking beyond avoiding data breaches or running afoul of data protection laws, and instead treat data as a pre-tangible and valuable asset.

To properly protect and leverage them to the fullest lawful potential, you first need to create an inventory of what assets you have along with how they are being used. Once the inventory is compiled, you can then look to grow, leverage and protect your assets. That is, you should look for opportunities to monetize, market, expand and sustain the data, while ensuring compliance with applicable rules and regulations. When considering data as an asset, privacy and data security principles should be thoroughly integrated into the development and marketing of your data-related products and services