Organizations produce more data now than at any time in history. Thanks to the increasing speeds of processors and the gradual drop in data storage costs, it’s never been easier to generate mountains of data. But when it comes time to mine that mountain for some valuable insights, finding the files you need can be a challenge.
Separate the Diamonds from the Coal
Understanding Dark Data
Comparing data gathering to mining is a fairly accurate analogy. Most of the good material is buried deep underground where it’s dark and hard to access. The same is true of your data. Dark data is that data you don’t even know about. It could also just be data that you’ve ignored and left behind.
Estimates suggest that well over half of the data in any organization is dark. It’s unknown, not being utilized, or so unorganized as to be unusable. Digging through your file system by hand to search for a few diamonds would be a time-consuming affair, and not one that we would recommend.
Know Where to Look
The first step to revealing valuable data in your organization is to know where it’s hiding. Unfortunately, your employees and your computer programs don’t typically leave a detailed treasure map for you to go hunting. Now that there are many ways to store data, files are often scattered about with no standard rules.
Useful information could be lurking anywhere. However, there are three locations that are most likely to contain the bulk of your files. Start your mining operations here and you’re sure to find something of value.
Companies have worked hard to get their data centralized onto servers in the office. Even operating systems were finally catching up and making it easier to run your entire operation off a company server. And then the COVID-19 pandemic happened.
Now your company likely has countless employees working from home. There’s never been a better time for data to accumulate. But does it really matter if your employees are keeping data tucked away on their home computers or company laptops while they work from home?
Employees are the most vulnerable part of any enterprise when it comes to cybersecurity. Having your data outside of the umbrella of your corporate protection is dangerous. You can mitigate this risk by encouraging your users to use company cloud storage or bringing in company-owned devices for routine maintenance and data mining.
Speaking of cloud storage, it’s quite the trend these days. It’s the right solution to the work from home problem, but it’s also one that can hurt your bottom line. Since cloud storage options charge per gigabyte per month, the more data you store the more your bill goes up. Without a hard limit on how much data you can keep in the cloud, it’s easy to see it as an infinite storage solution.
That mentality leads employees to dump whatever files they want into the cloud, even if they’re not necessary for business. It can quickly become a disorganized landfill rather than a neatly sorted and organized data center. Do you want your diamonds being buried under coal?
Similar to how cloud storage can overflow with hidden data and unnecessary information, your company servers constantly exchange data with other computers and can easily be flooded with data sludge. But unlike the cloud, there’s a finite limit to how much data you can keep on your company servers.
Your IT staff should perform routine data audits and look for files to delete. It is hard to know which files are important and which ones can be discarded. When in doubt they’ll probably keep the files around because the last thing any employee wants is to get reprimanded for accidentally deleting something mission critical.
Keep Dark Data Away for Good
Once you’ve cleaned up your file system, you need to keep it well-lit so you don’t get new data creeping into those dark corners. Keeping dark data under control will help you save money on storage costs and file management. Your employees can focus on what they do best instead of worrying about how to handle your company data. More efficient workflows will lead to more productivity and better profit for your business. Most importantly, you’ll have all the sparkling data you need to start a proper data analysis project.
If you are looking for a solution that will save your team many hours, reduce costs and data risk, connect with us to Book a Demo or get a Data Audit and see how data automation can dig out the diamonds in your data and leave the coal behind.