28 Jan Data Management: The heart of European sovereignty
Our friends at Atempo have contributed this article for the World Data Protection Day:
What is the most precious resource of our times? Which is also almost limitless? Data, obviously! At the heart of so much essential activity, its exploitation is the source of all progress: social, economic, ecological… Today, data is a genuine growth lever for public and private entities alike.
Faced with the challenge of a global data explosion, with volumes expected to multiply by 45 in the next ten years, data management will become even more strategic.
Let’s take a closer look at the drivers behind US and Chinese dominance, why European digital sovereignty should be a cornerstone policy and lastly how organizations -increasingly dependent on their data creation and management systems- should prioritize protecting their digital assets.
Putting an end to US and Chinese data dominance
US and Chinese digital leaders -including GAFAM and BATX- have dominated data-driven industries for over a decade. As a result of highly successful B2C approaches, the major players are now carving out significant B2B revenues. Amazon is an excellent example of a B2C (online bookseller) growing into a leading B2B cloud platform with AWS. Facebook (Meta) has grown inorganically through a huge buy-up strategy: the company has acquired more than 20 entities since its creation. Their common ground is cornering the data market because the value extracted from data will be the major wealth driver this century.
Why is this such an issue for Europe? Put very simply: handing over data to distant, highly competitive, and not always scrupulous providers does not make sound business sense particularly for sensitive and strategic industries. Storing an entire country’s social security details on a data center on a different continent with different rules is ill advised at best. Europe is home to thousands of small yet essential SMBs as well as world-leading industrial players in the defense, telecoms, automotive, health and food sectors. The only way for these sectors to not only survive but thrive is to allow them to keep full control over their data.
What is at risk?
Risks to data can be classified in different categories: chronic disasters caused by human activities, such as ransomware which today are the greatest threat faced by businesses. According to Sophos, 51% of companies worldwide have been victim to ransomware, a growing trend since the beginning of the pandemic. Data loss has damaging impact on businesses. In 2021, Statista estimates the cost of one data breach exceeds 4 million euros for both Germany and the UK!
Serious physical incidents such as server crashes or network outages can cause severe data loss. Environmental disasters are also on the rise with climate change including natural disasters such as fires, floods, tornadoes etc.
All these risks need mitigating of course. But this requires strong political leadership.
Towards European Autonomy
The loss of economic autonomy will impact political power. In other words, data and economic frailty will only further weaken Europe’s role at the global power table and open the door to a variety of potential flash points (military, cyber, industrial, social…). Europe should be proud of its model which reinjects tax revenues into a fair and respectful social and cultural framework. The GDPR policy is clearly at the heart of a European digital mindset.
Many European partners have risen to this challenge which is central to the upcoming French presidential election and the current French Presidency of the Council of the European Union. One stated aim is to help European champions prosper or in the words of Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the internal market: “Europe has to regain its technological sovereignty”. The French Presidency of the Council of the EU will clearly place data protection into the spotlight of political debates. It is not about protectionism, but Europe must safeguard its data against foreign competition to enhance its autonomy and build a prosperous future.
Sovereignty is essential because in any digital economy, data is considered the raw material of prosperity. Assisted by technologies such as AI and soon quantum computing, European sovereignty will condition our regional autonomy, employability, attractiveness, and our ability to meet tomorrow’s challenges.
Data Protection, Data Management
To protect their digital assets, on-premises or in the cloud, the implementation of a data protection and management infrastructure is key. Each company should be able to recover its data in the event of an unplanned incident and avoid irreversible data loss with dramatic impact on activities. Atempo is a leading European data protection and management provider. In 2019, a major French hospital was hit by a cyberattack. Atempo enabled the institution to recover its backed up data and return to full operational capacity in under 48 hours.
To counter American and Chinese dominance with their monopoly on exploiting the value of data, Europe must regain control of its digital destiny and rely on its industrial sector to build trustworthy cloud platforms and infrastructures. Labels can now be granted to European cloud providers who commit to respect the highest standards in terms of data protection and data privacy.
Today, organizations need to be transparent in their data protection strategy, and resilient to risks. In terms of sovereignty, only data control will allow Europe to assert itself internationally, showing that there is a digital “third way” that genuinely respects fundamental freedoms.