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Mining Dark Data for Business Gold

November 13, 2013 No Comments

It may not seem like much, but the “dark data” accumulated over the years you’ve been in business could be an untapped digital gold mine, which could give your company a competitive advantage if used in conjunction with the critical data you employ every day.

Housed in dusty vaults and off-site storage facilities, volumes of dark data exist in nearly every enterprise organization, historically unaccounted for and undervalued. Recent technological advancements and the adoption of a myriad of mobile devices have set a new user expectation to have (or should have) anytime access to information wherever and whenever it’s needed. Modern-day information sharing is fueling the fire, by allowing users to create and share data at will, giving dark data free reign to flow through a range of consumer devices, including smartphones, tablets and “traditional” laptop devices. The problem is that many organizations lack the policy and technology needed to determine best practices for data protection and efficient storage outside of the corporate data center.

The Data Deluge –No End in Sight

IT administrators often struggle with having little to no insight into what data is being created, limited control over how it is being stored, and almost no understanding of its business value. While this may not suggest a complete business breakdown, it can certainly result in a number of missed opportunities and increased costs. When it comes to information lifecycle governance, more often than not, organizations choose to lean on cold storage tape vaults to keep every scrap of data out of the paralyzing fear they may throw something away of value.

The Real Cost of Keeping Everything

In a recent survey, the Compliance, Governance, and Oversight Counsel (CGOC) found that, on average, 69 percent of a company’s data has no value. In essence, organizations could be spending up to 20 percent of their annual budget on storing data that has gone stale, with virtually no ROI.

In addition to the cost of storing superfluous data, the risks associated with locating necessary data in the event of a breach or in response to legal action are significant. When it comes time to make a critical business move or manage an eDiscovery process, it’s very labor-intensive to sift through the mass of irrelevant information. This runaround can eat up your IT manager’s time and budget, leaving less bandwidth for immediate business needs, or requiring a costly outsourced resource.

Defining the Business Value of Data

The key to satisfying the need to hoard information and those who might leverage it for the business is to first identify what data has value for which part of the organization and for how long. A variety of factors can help you start to realistically assess your data, such as:

  • Is it related to an HR function or issue?
  • Is it related to ongoing projects where core company IP is being leveraged?
  • Are there external users beyond the core teams that would benefit from this data?
  • What kind of standard indexing system (file nomenclature, department tagging) should we use across all our data?

Once data has been evaluated and indexed properly, organizations can better decide how and where to store that data – whether it is locally, in the cloud, offsite or usingsome combination of these. This inherently means a more streamlined approach and cost savings – both byproducts of a well-defined data strategy.

At its core, dark data represents untapped opportunities to transform a business, which can only be realized through a combination of efficient migration or deletion and content-aware retention. Trust that once this process is started, the benefits can be seen almost immediately. Only then will organizations be able to manage the present-day data that demands a front-row seat.


Emily Wojcik is Senior Product Marketing Manager for the Information Management business at CommVault. Emily has specialized in Information Management technologies for more than 13 years and has developed significant experience in the areas of archiving, compliance, eDiscovery, enterprise search and retention lifecycle management. Emily graduated with honors from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in Communications. Emily is a member of ARMA, EDRM and ACEDS.

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