Turn the light on dark data

by Splunk ANZ Area Vice President, Simon Eid

Credit: ID 113814414 © Olena Ostapenko | Dreamstime.com

As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to increase in size, it is no surprise that the amount of data that comes with it should reflect this. According to Statista, there will be over 70 billion IoT devices connected by the year 2025. We’re seeing this rise in data come from increased use of mobiles, use of social media, communication, services and digital storage; all facets driving the growth of IoT.

As we become more connected, organisations are inundated with the large volumes of data making it increasingly harder to track and manage information on an ongoing basis. Data has become a key differentiator and competitive advantage for organisations that can successfully harness it, in fact Splunk’s recent Dark Data report reveals that 76% of IT Executives and Managers believe that “the organisation with the most amount of data is going to win”.  But what about the organisations that can’t harness it, what is the point of having data you can’t access?

Data as it stands

The rise of IoT technology coupled with artificial intelligence (AI) has allowed businesses to gain a deeper understanding of their business operations, revealing new insights through data analytics. Businesses now have an inordinate amount of data to interpret, but with so much data that grows daily, it is becoming harder for organisations to effectively manage the volume of information. Hence, the rise of dark data.

Dark data, as it stands, is all the unknown and untapped data across an organisation, generated by systems, devices and interactions. In fact, dark data may be the biggest untapped resource in business today and is an underused asset that demands a more sophisticated approach, highlighting a need for organisations to look at how they collect, manage and analyse their data.

Machine data is a major source of dark data and it is growing much faster than traditional organisational data. Dark data can be a powerful fuel for artificial intelligence, those organisations without access to this crucial data will find themselves lagging behind competitors.

Why data stays dark

We’ve established that dark data is any data that isn’t being used and is a by-product of day-to-day business activities. Australian organisations are unprepared and ill-equipped for accessing the dark data within their organisation and in some case, don’t know where to start looking. So why is it that data stays dark?

In a recent report, 60% of Australian IT Executives believe that more than half of their organisations’ data is dark. More often than not, the data is considered too old or outdated to provide value to an organisation who relies on data that is current and relevant to their business objectives. In other instances, data may only be available in specific formats that can’t be accessed with the tools currently available to an organisation as systems have gradually been upgraded over time.

As an organisation continues to grow so will their data, resulting in duplicate copies alongside data sets that are incomplete or broken. Often, organisations will ignore potentially valuable data because they don’t have the time or resources to prepare it for use. For decision makers in an organisation, this could have far reaching consequences as they are lacking all the information needed to make informed decisions.

Turn on the lights

Deciding to unlock the potential of an organisations is the first step. In order to uncover dark data, there are a number of ways to approach this, one can turn to either external or internal methods to get the job done.

While quick and efficient, an organisation can turn to external sources such as a consultant to manage your data. While it may be an easy solution, it can prove to be quite expensive. Executives also need to consider the type of ongoing support needed to continue to deliver and uncover an organisations dark data, while preventing said data from building out.

The other approach is to turn to internal solutions to shed light on the issue. While not a “quick and easy” solution, it is a stronger and longer-term method to ensure data is front of mind throughout the entire organisation. Leveraging technology to effectively manage all data is a sound solution, by employing new technologies such as machine learning and AI you can reduce an organisations dark data pool, helping to collect and analyse existing and incoming data in real-time.

The future of data

The future of data will essentially determine the success of an organisation. Those uncovering their dark data by leveraging technology to manage huge datasets and educating their employees on the issue will stay one-step ahead of their competitors and provide improves services and products for their customers and stakeholders.

With the growth of data as it is, organisations need to be making data a priority by empowering employees with the right tools that provide deeper insights, helping them to make better decisions. Dark data will always be part of an organisation, ultimately it is how organisations work with dark data which will determine who will thrive in the market.

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Tags data securitydata protectionInternet of Things (IoT)

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