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  • Gunjan Syal

What's Lurking In Your Dark Data?



I'm quite certain more people are familiar with dark matter compared to dark data.


I admit, I am cheating here by combining the popularity stats from the astronomical phenomenon of dark matter, and the Canadian science fiction show titled Dark Matter. I highly recommend learning more about them both! 🛸


And now, back to the dark data...

At GoEmerald, we define dark data as the data that organizations end-up storing for the sake of it, and never use.

There are multiple reasons this data exists. A business may be:

  • collecting data for the fear of missing out,

  • still collecting non-essential data due to antiquated processes and tech debt, and

  • collecting data faster than the teams can categorize and analyze it, adding to the data volume in the oblivion.

This could be transactional, customer, partner, hiring, metadata and more. At its best, understanding what's lurking in your dark data can open up new opportunities. It might very well contain the insights towards resolving pandemic-ridden and fragile supply chains. At its worst, it is a cybersecurity risk. Any breach could open you up to risks. Remember, back in the day when a major retailer was hacked and was storing full credit card details for each store transaction, for some reason?! There are also requirements to comply with regulations and policies, such as GDPR, for all data stored by a business, dark or not.


Above all, I recommend leaders give serious and strategic thought to why they need to collect certain data when investing in new products, systems, applications or SaaS solutions. Like everything in life, you have to manage what you own. In our research of 350+ companies in 25 industries, 64% of datasets an average company was managing added no tangible value to the business. This data had been collected over time, until it grew too large and became a risk to relinquish without due diligence, requiring months of analysis before it could be archived or purged to avoid continued operating costs.


Here's my mantra regarding the dark data when working on innovation initiatives:

You collect or store it, you have to pay to manage and secure it. A strategic minimalist's approach to collecting the data is usually the best.

How often do you discuss implications of dark data in your organization? Click the image below and participate in the poll

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