Often, the first thing that comes to mind on mention of the acronym ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) is reducing carbon footprint, and generally, implementing sustainable energy solutions along with this.

By Mohammed Sayed, service delivery manager at DMP SA

However, while the environmental component is important, the social and governance aspects are equally so, and they encompass a wide range of issues, from economic inequality to how businesses are contributing towards the creation of a circular economy.

The governance element also incorporates compliance with data privacy legislation like the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPIA), which means it should be top of the agenda for South African businesses. In a data-driven world, data governance must be an integral part of compliance, including cyber resilience to safeguard data against the growing threat of cybercrime.

Data management is an ESG issue

While data used to be a technology problem, the reality is that today, enterprises and corporates house vast volumes of data regardless of the industry they operate in. This data is only continuing to increase, to the point where storing it contributes significantly to the physical and energy footprint of an organisation.

From the space and power required to run data centres to the cooling and physical security, data can potentially use a lot of energy. Not only is this a challenge in terms of reducing carbon emissions, in South Africa it poses the additional issue of coping during load shedding.

PoPIA is another pressing issue businesses need to consider when it comes to their ESG strategy, since it spans not only the G (Governance), but the S (Social) as well. Effectively managing and protecting data is critical to data governance, which in turn is a cornerstone of PoPIA compliance. In addition, there is a social element to data – personal information stored and used by businesses can have a societal impact if it is subject to a data breach and sold or otherwise used by cybercriminals, including identity theft.

Your data management partner is an ally

Finding the right data management partner can be invaluable in ensuring data compliance as well as in an overall ESG strategy, while maintaining competitiveness. If your data management provider partners with the largest data centre providers in South Africa for its cloud and computing platforms, they will be able to stay on the leading edge of innovative technology, optimising your data strategy and ensuring the best data governance.

In addition, having strategic partnerships with key data protection and data management vendors can help to drive more effective, modern solutions to both data and ESG problems. A data management partner that leverages next-generation data protection solutions that incorporate air gapping, advanced threat detection and breach prevention can help businesses not only to improve data management, but also ensure that cyber resilience is a priority.

Robust data governance and effective cyber resilience are essential components in advancing sustainability goals as well as in complying with legislation like PoPIA and thus tackling both social and governance aspects as well as the environment. Partnering with a data management expert and adopting an effective, easy to use, cloud-native data platform helps organisations leverage best in class data solutions without the cost of hardware, maintenance, and backup power requirements, making PoPIA compliance a far simpler task.