Dynamics Matters Podcast: Ep 63 - What data masking is and why you need it

With special guest Max Dinser, Innovation Consultant at HSO

This episode covers:

✓ What data masking is

✓ Overcoming data protection constraints

✓ Continue your data work without worry

Transcription

Introduction

Welcome to the HSO Dynamics matters podcast.

Your regular sonic dive into the world of Microsoft technology related matters and much more besides.

I’m Michael Lonnon, and today I’m joined by my Dutch colleague and innovation consultant Max Dinser.

In this edition we discuss why the supply chains of many organisations are unprepared to meet growing digital commerce needs, and then had a chat about how some of the tools Microsoft announced in the recent Ignite conference can help improve commerce offerings.

So, grab a brew, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

Michael Lonnon

Max, what is data masking?

Max Dinser

With new regulations coming in, and data being the currency of the century, it’s important that you also protect data. So, you have data protection acts like the GDPR. That’s what we have in the EU, but you also have acts like New York shield, the CCPA in California, and more. And more data regulations are popping up. These regulations force you to treat data with a certain care. Data masking is a tool that helps customers stay more compliant with these regulations. And it’s for a specific scenario, where data that you have in a production environment is not allowed to be extracted into a system or test environment, call a data subject, and a data subject can be a human being, like you, me, or it can be an organisation. In essence, it’s data that is referenceable to an organisation or person. What data masking does is allows you to extract that data, and then run the workflow to anonymize or randomise that data so it’s not relatable to you as a human being or to an organisation anymore. Randomising is turning my name, for example, Max Dinser into Mickey Mouse.

Michael Lonnon

So if you’re going to test software, you’re going to want to test it with live data, but you can’t do that because then you’re going up against GDPR. So, data masking is about transforming that data into in a way that allows you to put it into the test environment and use it without hitting up against GDPR and other regulations, right?

Max Dinser

That’s correct. It’s a small and simple tool but if you think about it, if you extract data out of the production environment, and you have information about yourself or about me, as soon as you get it out of the system, then you face things like unauthorised access to the data, having some kind of corruption of some kind or some kind of human error. So that data could get in bad hands or could go into a data breach. That’s why we have the data masking tool. Your data is being anonymized and you, as an end consumer, or the customer of our customers, in essence, are on a safe and secure spot with it.

Michael Lonnon

Out of interest, how are organisations doing this at the moment if they don’t have data masking tools?

Max Dinser

Actually, the funny thing is, we see that more than 90% of the companies are just not compliant and could be fined.

Michael Lonnon

Well, then it seems like a no brainer as to why you would use something like a data masking tool. Do organisations just not know that they’re becoming uncompliant?

Max Dinser

Most of the companies are not aware. GDPR is a large regulation, it’s a subject in itself so, we see there’s a learning curve in the companies as well and as you say, it’s a no brainer. For this reason, we now position data masking in every customer implementation.

Michael Lonnon

How does the data masking tool work?

Max Dinser

What we basically did, we took the platform of Microsoft customer engagement. So it’s a tool for Dynamics 365, sales, customer and field service project operations and what the tool does is it allows you to connect to any entity. Think about accounts, leads, contacts, or custom entities that you’ve done in your implementation, we can link to every record and work with the database as a structure, and then link every field that is connected to that entity. By an account it might be things like your first and last name, your phone number, email, whatever you store on account or lead, and we then let the workflow run out of it. It’s a power automate flow and multiple tools that we’ve configured. So, everything that is related to the accounts, maybe a work order or banking information or whatever it is, will also get anonymized or random amounts depending on which flow you choose. We have the two options that the user can choose. If you say, yep, I have 1,000 contacts that are now out of the data lifespan, I’m not using them anymore, I’m not in contact with them anymore, they are inactive, we can run a batch job of these 1,000 contacts in one go.

Michael Lonnon

How quickly can you get the tool running? Does it come at the point of implementation with CEE or are you downloading it as a power app? How are you getting hold of it?

Max Dinser

You can go to the Microsoft app store, which is the app store of Microsoft business applications. You can download a free trial and try it out yourself. You can get in touch with us at HSO and request a demo.

Michael Lonnon

Is it relevant for any organisation of any size?

Max Dinser

I will say it’s relevant for everyone but especially companies that feel and have the feeling that they could be fined but, in essence, every company could use it that uses data and stores information about its customers. It’s for everyone.

Summary

To echo Max’s point, Microsoft’s strategy is on making technology more accessible – and to make it easier for more people to use and get value from it.

As part of this, there’s a focus on bringing parts of the Dynamics 365 stack away from the main platform so you can integrate the specific parts you need into infrastructure such as SAP. It’s no longer an either or conversation.

Max’s last piece of advice, to Google Ignite book of news, is something I’d suggest you do next because it provides a useful snapshot of what’s coming down the line from Microsoft.

I’m going to leave you with a quote from author Michael Baldwin who said: nothing ever lasts in the head. So if you do watch recordings from the Ignite event, with over 300 sessions, keep a notebook handy, you’ll have some great ideas.

Take care of yourselves.

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