Collaborate but protect: the challenges of protecting your data

Puay Tang, Jordi Molas-Gallart, Robert Shields
Data and its transfer is increasingly important to corporations as more companies use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) based tools to conduct their businesses. This article addresses an insufficiently studied issue: data management in collaborative projects involving several firms and other organizations, including public sector ones. We focus on the use of advanced ICT tools to support collaboration in the design, development, manufacture and maintenance of complex product systems. In these instances, organizations need to exchange and share large amounts of proprietary technical data through data networks. How can collaborating organizations exploit the capabilities offered by ICT tools without increasing the vulnerability of their data to misappropriation or leakage? Do formal regulations and codes of practice provide a helpful tool to guide data management strategies? We find that the technologies, processes and contractual tools to enable data management and control exist but are not being deployed to the full extent of their capabilities, and discuss a range of strategies, approaches and tools that are starting to be developed in some industrial environments.