What is the best way for enterprises to tackle dark data?

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Data is very love/hate for the enterprise. On the one hand, it introduces myriad opportunities for business growth and enhances customer experience. On the other hand, however, it needs a of a lot of maintenance. What's more, business executives, who may have never had anything to do with data before, are suddenly finding it high on their list of priorities. Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions out there that offer us better insight into our data – a great asset for businesses today. What's more, there are also solutions that make data far easier to decipher. This includes data visualisation or natural language generation. However, while this is all great news, it means that other, more pressing matters may be eclipsed.

Shedding light on dark data

Dark data is often an afterthought for enterprises, but this should not be the case. Dark data plagues us inside and outside of the office. Let's take your mobile, for example. How many photos do you have saved on there that you don't do anything with? Do you remember all the photos that you've saved? Unlikely. The same applies to the enterprise. Businesses become hoarders when it comes to data, saving everything with a 'just in case' mentality. Thus, enterprises archive masses of data – but how much of this is ever actually used again? For clarity, Gartner's definition of dark data is “the information assets organizations collect, process and store during regular business activities, but generally fail to use for other purposes.” What businesses need is to ditch the 'just in case' attitude, which puts their data on the back burner and nothing else. By discarding it for later, you're assuming there is no value to it. What if you're wrong? The only way to find out is by facing the music and dealing with the problem head on. Instead, you need to investigate what you've got – the sooner, the better too, as it'll only keep accumulating. Besides, who wants to leave money on the table like that? Organisations need to build dark data into their analytics strategies. Explore the dark data you have and decide what of it you can exploit for value. Then, move and delete the data as necessary. Most importantly, however, is to ensure that you revisit this on a regular basis, otherwise you will find yourself back to square one again, very much in the dark about your dark data.

What to learn more about data? Check out our Tech Chat episode with Christy Wyatt, CEO at Absolute Software, for more.

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