So what is dark data? And how can you keep it from becoming a liability for your company? In this article, we are going to take a closer look at dark data and how to manage it properly.
We will break down what dark data is, how to identify it, and the dangers of not properly managing it. We will also provide some best practices for managing dark data and introduce some tools that can help you in this process.
What is dark data and why should you care about it?
Within your business, a lot of data gets collected but never used. This is the generic definition of dark data, but there are a few different types of dark data:
Data that’s been collected but never used
This is probably the most common type of dark data. It includes things like customer surveys, website logs, and social media comments. This data is often unstructured and difficult to analyze. As a result, it gets relegated to the “dark corners” of your data warehouse.
Data that’s been collected but never properly managed
This is data that’s been collected but never organized or structured in a way that makes it usable. For example, a company might have a customer database that’s full of duplicate entries and incorrect information. This data is often difficult to work with and can be a liability if not properly managed.
Data that’s been collected but never accessed
This is data that’s been collected but, for whatever reason, has never been accessed. It could be because it’s not relevant to the business, it’s too difficult to access, or it’s just not something that’s ever been a priority. This data can be a goldmine for businesses, but only if it’s properly managed and accessed.
The dangers of not properly managing dark data
There are a few reasons why dark data is a problem for businesses:
It can take up valuable storage space
Dark data can take up a lot of space on your servers and in your data warehouse. And if you’re paying for storage by the gigabyte, this can be a significant expense.
It can make it difficult to find the data you need
If your data is unorganized and cluttered with dark data, it can be difficult to find the information you need when you need it. This can slow down your business and make it difficult to make data-driven decisions.
It can be a liability
If not properly managed, dark data can pose a serious security risk. This is because dark data often contains sensitive information. If this data falls into the wrong hands, it could be used for identity theft, fraud, or other malicious activities.
The first step is to identify which data is dark data and which is not. Once you’ve classified your data, you can begin to put processes in place to manage it appropriately.
What is the best way to classify your data?
There are a few different ways to classify data:
By type: You can classify data by the type of information it contains. For example, you might have customer data, financial data, or marketing data.
By sensitivity: You can also classify data by its sensitivity. If you have data that’s particularly sensitive, like social security numbers or credit card information, you’ll want to take extra steps to protect it.
By storage location: You can also classify data by where it’s stored. For example, you might have data that’s stored on-premises, in the cloud, or on a third-party server.
By format: You can also classify data by its format. This is often how businesses classify data when they’re determining which data to keep and which to delete. For example, you might have data that’s in a SQL database, an Excel spreadsheet, or a PDF file.
Develop a plan for managing your dark data
Once you’ve classified your data, you’ll need to develop a plan for managing it. This plan should include things like where you’ll store your dark data, how you’ll protect it, and how you’ll ensure that only authorized individuals have access to it.
Invest in the right tools and technologies
A few different tools and technologies can help you manage dark data. Explore your options and invest in the best tool for your business.
Business intelligence (BI) tools can offer a unique perspective on dark data — and give you the ability to use dark data in ways that you may not have been able to use before.
Put processes in place to ensure compliance
Once you’ve put the above steps in place, you’ll need to put processes in place to ensure that your dark data is properly managed. This might include things like regular audits of your dark data or training for your employees on how to properly handle it.
Tools and technologies that can help you manage dark data
A few different tools and technologies can help you manage dark data. These include data discovery tools, data classification tools, and data security tools.
Data discovery tools
Data discovery tools help you identify dark data so you can properly manage it. This is often done through search engines or keywords that help you find dark data hidden within your organization.
Data classification tools
Data classification tools help you classify your data so you can put the appropriate processes in place to manage it. Classification allows you to determine which data is sensitive and needs to be better protected.
Data security tools
Data security tools help you keep your dark data safe by encrypting it and keeping it in a secure location. These tools can also help you control who has access to your dark data and track any associated activity.
When you have the right tools in place, you can properly manage your dark data and keep it from becoming a threat to your business. With the proper management, you can ensure that your dark data is secure and compliant with all applicable laws and regulations. However, your dark data could become a liability if you don’t have the right tools in place.
The bottom line
Dark data is a big problem for businesses today, but it can be properly managed with the right tools and strategies. Businesses need to take steps to identify their dark data, classify it, and develop a plan for managing it.
One of the best ways to ensure your data is being properly managed is to invest in data discovery, classification, and security tools. These tools often come in the form of BI tools that can help you keep your dark data secure and compliant with all applicable laws and regulations. When you have the right tools in place, you can properly manage your dark data and keep it from becoming a threat to your business.
Check out some related resources:
Creating apps with no coding in 5 simple steps
How dark data is hurting your business
Explore Data Commercialization Opportunities: A Guide to Taking Your Data to Market
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