Business / Data and Analytics / Educational

Taking Care of Your Dark Data

Framework architecture in a business cabinet

Dark data is everywhere. Just by reading this, you’re creating dark data. Big data is precious because it reveals important insights. Obvious data metrics are used, but the rest gets left behind. Dark data is all the data that goes untouched, and there is a lot. In fact, most digital data is dark data and it’s filled with potential, both good and bad. What does that mean? Your dark data can be hiding amazing new insights just waiting to be uncovered OR become a hacker’s reward.

Using Dark Data

Don’t assume all dark data is useless, it’s just data that’s never been analyzed. Quantifiable data can be processed, though its worth might not be apparent right away. Data analysis extracts insights AND defines qualities of the data. Maybe you hadn’t linked location to sales performance prior to analysis, but turns out it’s crucial to performance.  Easily integrated data is simple, simply add it to your existing data model. A dashboard processes data and produces easy-to-read metrics. Analyzing and visualizing a spreadsheet builds a data story foundation by combining a range of data points. Who knows what your dark data is hiding? 

Some dark data goes unused because the data has no value or can’t be integrated. A voice message is digital data but doesn’t translate into readable data. A credit card number isn’t used in analysis. This kind of data is difficult to incorporate into the big data. So what then? 

Not Using Dark Data

You might think dark data does nothing because it’s just old data, and that’s true. Data doesn’t do anything unless you do something with it. But by leaving it to collect dust, you also risk a data breach. Sensitive information often becomes dark data. Personal details like your social security number doesn’t have surface value so they aren’t analyzed as a metric. Conducting low-level checks (surveying stored data) is a basic preemptive measure that keeps you updated with changes in the data. 

Because stored data isn’t constantly viewed, a data breach won’t be obvious right away, but the consequences will be disastrous. Data breaches are so common now, there’s a decent chance your credit card has been compromised. So protect your data. Larger dark data inventories will require strong IT solutions and adhere to compliance laws. For smaller quantities of data, frequently surveying dark data keeps you updated with any changes, including strange activity.

Take care of your dark data. Use it, protect it, and analyze it.

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