The six risks of dark data
It’s sensible to think that dark data which is out of sight and out of mind, could contain unknown risks. […]
The International Data Corporation estimates that much as 80% of consumer data is ‘garbage’ but that does seem an extreme figure and is the subject of much debate. Even if it was only 20%, that still amounts to millions of pounds wasted each year and countless missed opportunities. In any other business that simply wouldn’t be tolerated.
1. Don’t accept that because data storage is cheap everything can be kept.
2. Create policies for when staff join the business – and for what happens to the data (on local drives, laptops, shared drives, removable and mobile devices) when they leave the business.
3. Understand which regulations require what data to be kept for how long. Don’t keep it longer than necessary unless clear benefit can be derived from it.
4. Don’t believe all data in enough volume is “Big Data” and therefore has value. Much of it will not be useful in big data projects, especially as it’s often unstructured and in various formats.
5. Ensure defensible deletion (a comprehensive policy to reduce both storage costs and the legal risks associated with storing too much data) is used actively.
6. As new systems or applications are adopted, consider what data they accumulate and how it is used. Don’t have debugging log levels run at too high a setting or longer than necessary to find problems.
7. Just because you can get data and store it, don’t do so without a valid reason.
8. Master Data Management and the holy grail of ‘one source of truth’. For example, customer details stored in one place for every department of the business, is worth pursuing as an ideal.
9. Charge cost centres for storage. If it’s free, the data addiction will only grow and there is little incentive to reduce it.
10. Don’t forget EU General Data Protection Regulation gives data subjects the ability to access and even delete their data. Ensure systems are joined up enough for this to be achievable without too much manual intervention.
11. Have an email management system that is centralised and not using local ‘.pst’ files, automatically deleting messages as per the organisation’s policy.
12. Remember newer forms of data such as voice, video, mobile text or social media data. Much of this data will be in the cloud – often put there by creative departments without contacting IT first and therefore hidden.