5 Tips for Making Constructive Use of Your Dark Data

How much of your organization's data is actually being used? If you're like most companies, odds are the answer is less than half. Indeed, a recent study shows that around 60% of organizations exploit less than half of their data. What's happening with the other half? It's gone dark. Dark data is any data that your company doesn't use at all or doesn't even know about. However, these files could be useful in the right circumstances.

5 Tips for Making Constructive Use of Your Dark Data

1. Get Your Data Out of the Dark

Before you can put data to use, you need to at least know that it exists. These dark files are like an item in the back of your closet. You bought it, wore it once, and probably forgot about it or didn't like the way it fit back then. It has languished in the shadows ever since. But if you bring it out and dust it off, you might find something useful.

How do you find something that nobody knows about? You need powerful search tools. It's impossible for your staff to know your data given the immense volume of information that organizations have to deal with. Even the best IT manager won't know where all of your files are. Automation is the answer. With an automated search tool, you can reveal all the files in your system. Some of those files might be useful, but others will need to be discarded.

2. Clean Out the Closet

After performing a deep scan of your file system, you'll likely have a lot of garbage that you need to get rid of. Data typically goes dark for a good reason. ROT data frequently overlaps with dark data. ROT refers to redundant, outdated, and trivial files. These files routinely find themselves in the cellar because they rarely add anything of value. Redundant files created by autosaves or temporary files can be deleted outright. The same is true for trivial data.

Outdated data, on the other hand, may prove useful. Even though you might not have used it in a long time, it could help you identify trends when you compare old data with your most recent files. For instance, a list of clients from 10 years ago might seem useless, but when you hold it up against today's list, you might be able to discern how often phone numbers or addresses change. That information can guide your future client tracking.

3. Classify and Organize

At this point, you've already done your organization a massive favor by deleting heaps of useless information. With so much data being dark, you can easily slash your data storage budget by simply shedding your company of all of this unnecessary data. You've polished some of your ROT data into useful information. But what about the rest of your data? Could there be something useful that's shrouded in darkness? There's only one way to find out.

You need to know your data, which means knowing what's inside. To do that, you need to parse your files to classify them properly. Most data today is unstructured, meaning it doesn't follow a predictable pattern like a database does with its rows and columns. With an automated platform, you can sift through your data in seconds. Automated tools can even see the data within the data, for instance, the text in an email, and classify each file accordingly.

4. Analyze for Insights

With your files neatly classified and organized, you can then select files for analysis. Perhaps you've unearthed some long-lost data that could contribute to a current project. Maybe you'd like to run a comparative analysis to see how your business has grown. Have you neglected a particular data point because you never thought it would be useful? Now's the time to see what insights you can gain.

Use your business intelligence tools to process your data. You might learn something valuable from your darkest data. Even if you don't get earth-shattering insights, you've at least cleaned up your system and reduced the opportunity for data theft and human error.
 

5. Keep Darkness From Returning

Your final goal should be to make sure that your data doesn't slide back into darkness. Otherwise, you'll be right back where you started. Instead of cleaning out your data every so often, choose a smart data management platform that allows you to keep track of your data and know where it is at all times.

That's what we've developed here at Aparavi. Ask Aparavi for a demo of our smart data management platform. It can discover, classify, and organize your files automatically so you never get lost in darkness again.