How ‘Dark Data’ can Transform your Business

In today’s technology-driven world, business data is a valuable and competitive commodity. With so much data being acquired and stored every minute, firms can easily amass unsustainable quantities of data that quickly becomes expensive and difficult to analyse once it has gone dark.

Once viewed as redundant, with no tactical value, dark data is raw, unstructured data that has not been analyzed and includes things like text messages, documents, email, video & audio files, and images. Yet once businesses understand that within this raw data there are strategic and operational insights that can be uncovered using analytics, they can begin to use it to validate or clarify assumptions, inform decision making, and help chart new paths to the future.

Businesses are now being forced into rethinking how their data is managed as the world moves into a new year of regulatory change. Key new legislation includes the second Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II), the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and the General Data protection Regulation (GDPR). Each directive includes a data component, whether through storing, reporting and recording. Noncompliance with the regulations could results in hefty fines, making it imperative that businesses understand how to manage their data.

Below, Matt Smith, CEO of SteelEye, the compliance tech and data analytics firm, explains how dark data can be used to benefit and transform your business.

Automate and process data

Many firms currently have an overwhelming amount of fragmented customer data stored in their systems across multiple locations. With little guidance or understanding of how to use it, businesses are left vulnerable to the risk that any update does not populate data thoroughly and that they are missing out on an opportunity to capitalise on this potentially valuable resource.

Having amassed large quantities of data also means that businesses could suffer from significant delays when trying to organize, analyse and act upon the data they’ve gathered. Through the use of cloud technologies, dark data can now be stored and normalized as it is created. Once this data is normalized firms are able to access and analyse this data immediately and from anywhere. Doing this as the data is created provides firms with more scalable, cost-effective and automated data management processes.

Gain business insights

As Deloitte Insights point out, approximately 90 percent of all data in existence has been generated in the past five years, highlighting the potential plethora of unexplored data and business insights available for companies to utilise.

Through incorporating improved data storage systems, cleaning and processing data, firms can work to establish patterns and trends in their business, enabling them to innovate and even launch new products. We are already seeing firms across sectors, including retail, food & beverage and health care, taking advantage of dark data by segmenting marketing campaigns to understand customer pathways and invest in channels in new channels, boosting ecommerce conversions and personalising healthcare to improve overall health outcomes for the broader population. Once you are able to make connections between structured and unstructured data, the potential business insights are endless.

Reduce storage costs

As businesses amass increasingly large amounts of unorganized data, this inevitably creates demand for more storage and overhead costs. Instead of taking up space in expensive data warehouses, cloud storage allows for reduced costs and greater flexibility. Generally, almost half of an organization’s files can and should be archived, and a practical way of offloading this data is to upload it to a cloud platform. Cloud Data warehouses offer a cost effective way of applying the most modern, scalable and secure technologies.

In addition to eating up vast quantities of storage space, unorganized data can pose a serious security risk as businesses are often unaware even of what data they are holding. Dark data can pose legal, regulatory risks, intelligence and reputational risks as quite often, confidential information is stored without adequate organization or protection.

Despite organisations putting more money into storage, they remain reliant on employees and IT systems to manage vast volumes of data. By using technology to help with dark data disposition, by sorting and classifying the data they store, businesses can simplify their discovery processes and obligations, reducing their dark data, and storage costs, as a result.

Matt Smith is the CEO of SteelEye, the compliance tech and data analytics firm.

Author: Dylan Jones

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