Most organizations today have a data management strategy in place, and for the most part, it is a strategy on how to manage data that’s being used in analysis.
This means that the focus is on collecting and organizing data to make it easily accessible for users across the organization.
While this type of strategy has its benefits, there are also drawbacks to using it; specifically, it doesn’t take into account the data that is being stored but not used in analyses. This is commonly known as dark data.
What is dark data?
Dark data is defined as information that is collected and stored but not used. It can come from a variety of sources, including social media, sensors, websites, and more.
This data is often unstructured, making it challenging to analyze and draw insights from. In many cases, dark data is simply ignored because it’s seen as too much of a hassle to deal with.
However, there is value in dark data—if you know how to find it and leverage it effectively.
What is a dark data lifecycle?
You may be familiar with a data lifecycle, which is the process of collecting, storing, and analyzing data. A dark data lifecycle is similar but with a focus on dark data.
The dark data lifecycle includes four steps:
1. Collection: The first step is to collect dark data from various sources. This can be done manually or automatically.
2. Storage: Once the data is collected, it must be stored in a secure location. This can be on-premises or in the cloud.
3. Analysis: The next step is to analyze the data to look for patterns and insights. This can be done using various tools, including big data analytics platforms. This step is key to making dark data useful.
4. Action: Finally, the insights from the data need to be turned into actionable items. This can involve changing processes, implementing new technologies, and more.
While steps one and two are similar to a traditional data lifecycle, steps three and four are different. The focus of the traditional data lifecycle is on making the data accessible to users. The focus of a dark data lifecycle is on analyzing the data to find hidden insights.
What is a dark data management strategy?
A dark data management strategy is a plan for how to deal with dark data. This strategy should include things like what data to collect, how to store it, how to analyze it, and how to action the insights.
There are a few things to keep in mind when developing a dark data management strategy:
1. Define your goals.
The first step is to define your goals. What do you hope to achieve by working with dark data? Does your team understand dark data and how it can be used? Once you begin to invest in the process of collecting and analyzing dark data, your goals will help keep you on track.
2. Collect the right data.
When collecting dark data, it’s essential to focus on data that is most likely to contain insights that can help you achieve your goals. There is no point in collecting large amounts of data that is unlikely to be useful.
3. Store the data securely.
Once you’ve collected the data, you need to store it in a secure location. This location could be on-premises or in the cloud. Whichever option you choose, ensure that the data is properly secured and that only authorized personnel can access it.
4. Analyze the data.
The next step is to analyze the data. It’s easy to analyze large amounts of data using a business intelligence tool. The goal is to look for patterns and insights that can help you achieve your goals.
5. Action the insights.
Finally, you need to take the insights from the data and turn them into actionable items. This can involve changing processes, implementing new technologies, and more. The goal is to use dark data to improve your business.
A dark data management strategy is crucial to working with dark data. By defining your goals, collecting the right data, storing it securely, analyzing it, and taking action on the insights, you can use dark data to improve your business.
What are the benefits of a dark data management strategy?
As you can see, working with dark data for your business can involve quite a bit of planning and effort. So, what are the benefits of going through all of this work? Here are some of the top benefits of a dark data management strategy:
1. Enhance your organization’s decision-making
Every business or organization uses data to drive its decision-making process. However, you can enhance this process by utilizing dark data and making better decisions.
For example, if your organization has a customer service department, dark data can be used to help improve the quality of service that customers receive. Or consider a retail business; dark data can be used to help improve the customer experience in the store.
2. Improve customer retention and loyalty
Another benefit of a dark data management strategy is that it can help you improve customer retention and loyalty. By understanding your customers better, you can provide them with the products, services, and experiences that they want and need.
One practical example is a hotel that uses dark data to improve customer service. By analyzing data about their guests, the hotel can identify areas where they can make changes to improve the guest experience. This could involve things like changing the room layout, providing more amenities, or training staff to be more responsive to guests’ needs.
3. Reduce costs
A dark data management strategy can also help you to reduce costs. This is because dark data can be used to identify areas where your organization is wasting money. But how does this work?
Well, consider a manufacturing company that uses dark data to track the production process. By understanding how the production process works, the company can identify areas where they can make changes to improve efficiency and reduce waste. This could lead to significant cost savings for the organization.
4. Improve business processes
In addition to reducing costs, dark data can also be used to improve business processes. This is because dark data can provide insights into how your organization works and where there are opportunities for improvement.
For example, consider a company that uses dark data to track the sales process. By understanding how the sales process works, the company can identify areas where they can make changes to improve efficiency and close more sales.
5. Gain a competitive advantage
Finally, a dark data management strategy can give your organization a competitive advantage. This is because dark data can be used to identify trends and insights that your competitors may not be aware of.
By understanding these trends, you can make changes to your products, services, or processes that will give you a competitive advantage. For example, if you are a retailer and notice that customers are buying more online, you could change your website or offer free shipping to stay ahead of your competition.
These are just a few of the benefits of a dark data management strategy. As you can see, there are many ways that dark data can be used to improve your business. So, if you haven’t already started working with dark data, now is the time to start.
The bottom line
With dark data, your company can begin to reap the benefits of big data without having to make a large investment. All you need is a dark data management strategy.
By understanding your dark data and using it to your advantage, you can improve your decision-making process, reduce costs, and gain a competitive advantage.
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