Dark Data Helps Boost Business

Businesses are constantly seeking new ways to gain a competitive edge and drive growth. However, amid the vast volumes of data generated daily, there lies a hidden treasure trove of information often overlooked - dark data.

According to Gartner, dark data refers to the wealth of information assets that organisations collect, process, and store during regular business activities but fail to utilise effectively.
 
One needs to understand the untapped potential of dark data and the transformative impact it can have on businesses. Harnessing dark data involves employing advanced analytics and machine learning techniques to illuminate hidden patterns, trends, and insights that traditional Business Intelligence (BI) approaches may overlook.
 
Dark data is actually quite prevalent, perhaps more so than you realise. Veritas reports that, on average, 52% of a company's data falls into the category of "dark." 
 
Similarly, Splunk's "The State of Dark Data" report, drawing from input provided by business and IT decision makers, places this statistic at 55%. This report sheds light on the disparity between the potential of AI and the current state of data reality.
 
Over 1,300 leaders from seven major economies have voiced their concerns: they struggle to locate all their data, with more than half of it classified as "dark" - undiscovered and often untouched. While they acknowledge the transformative power of AI, they remain uncertain about the timing and methods of implementation.
 
Additionally, many express apprehension about the need to enhance their own data literacy. Globally, respondents indicate that 55 percent of organisational data remains in the dark. However, almost unanimously, they recognise the immense value of data for achieving success. Presently, only a fraction, no more than 15 percent of respondents, utilise AI to drive strategy, innovation, efficiency, or enhance the customer experience.
 
Nevertheless, over 60 percent anticipate leveraging AI in these areas in the future. While an overwhelming 92 percent express willingness to acquire new data skills, only 57 percent are highly enthusiastic about working more with data, with some attributing hesitancy to age.

Understanding Dark Data

By unlocking the latent potential of dark data, organisations can gain a deeper understanding of customer behaviours, market trends, and operational inefficiencies, paving the way for more informed decision-making and strategic planning.
 
Dark data encompasses various types of unstructured and structured data, including but not limited to customer interactions, operational logs, transactional data, and human resources information.

These data sources hold valuable insights waiting to be discovered, providing organisations with a holistic view of their operations and market landscape. 

Strategies For Uncovering Dark Data Insights

Data discovery and inventory involve conducting a comprehensive audit of existing data sources across the organisation to identify potential dark data repositories. Leveraging advanced analytics techniques such as natural language processing (NLP), sentiment analysis, and predictive modelling can extract meaningful insights from unstructured data sources like emails, customer reviews, and social media interactions.
 
Integrating disparate data sources and consolidating them into a centralised data repository enables easier analysis and facilitates cross-functional insights. Implementing real-time monitoring and analysis tools allows organisations to continuously capture and analyse incoming data streams, identifying emerging trends and anomalies for proactive decision-making.
 
Establishing robust data governance policies ensures data quality, security, and compliance with regulatory requirements, mitigating risks associated with dark data.

Unlocking Business Value

By harnessing dark data, organisations can unlock a myriad of business benefits, including enhanced customer insights, operational efficiency improvements, innovative product development opportunities, risk mitigation, and gaining a competitive advantage.
 
Dark data represents a vast reservoir of untapped potential for businesses across industries. By adopting a proactive approach to identify, capture, and leverage dark data insights, organisations can gain a competitive edge, drive innovation, and fuel growth in today's data-driven economy.

Jacques du Preez is CEO of  Intellinexus       

Image: cottonbro studio

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