IT leaders seeking to derive business value from the data their companies collect face myriad challenges. Perhaps the least understood is the lost opportunity of not making good on data that is created, and often stored, but seldom otherwise interacted with.
This so-called “dark data,” named after the dark matter of physics, is information routinely collected in the course of doing business: It’s generated by employees, customers, and business processes. It’s generated as log files by machines, applications, and security systems. It’s documents that must be saved for compliance purposes, and sensitive data that should never be saved, but still is.
According to Gartner, the majority of your enterprise information universe is composed of “dark data,” and many companies don’t even know how much of this data they have. Storing it increases compliance and cybersecurity risks, and, of course, doing so also increases costs.
Figuring out what dark data you have, where it is kept, and what information is in it is an essential step to ensuring the valuable parts of this dark data are secure, and those that shouldn’t be kept are deleted. But the real advantage to unearthing these hidden pockets of data may be in putting it to use to actually benefit the business.
But mining dark data is no easy task. It comes in a wide variety of formats, can be completely unformatted, locked away in scanned documents or audio or video files, for example.
Here is a look at how some organizations are transforming dark data into business opportunities, and what advice industry insiders have for IT leaders looking to leverage dark data.