There’s no denying that data is growing exponentially. By 2020, IDC predicts there will be more than 40 zettabytes (ZB) of digital data in the world.1 Almost all companies experience data growth, and while not all data falls under the “unstructured” category, many IT departments fail to have full visibility into exactly what information is being stored on company networks.When a company understands the data being stored, it can make better business decisions, adapt efficiently and minimize risks. The dark data (operational data that is not being used) that exists in most businesses can cause many challenges and lead to many questions, including:
- What type of data is being stored?
- Is the data important to the organization?
- What potential value does the data hold?
- Is the data still relevant, or is it outdated?
- Is the data subject to any government regulations?
- Who owns and has access to the data?
- Is my sensitive data safe?
- Are IT resources being utilized efficiently?
While identifying dark data can be a good first step, it’s important to audit what data is being stored on the company’s IT infrastructure. As much as 69 percent of data that exists within a company has no real value to the business.2 Employees’ personal data including music, pictures and videos are not adding value to the business. Identifying and analyzing data within your organization that would otherwise just take up storage space can help lead to better business decisions and can open the gates for data monetization.
Unstructured data also creates challenges from a security and compliance standpoint. Companies lacking visibility into stored data can potentially be exposed to security risks. For example, if customer, account, financial, proprietary, or other sensitive information ends up in the wrong hands because the data wasn’t secured, the company can be held accountable. Proper data management can provide an audit trail, and also helps companies align with laws and regulations. With proper visibility and security policies in place, risks can be mitigated.
Finally, dark data causes its fair share of inefficiencies from an IT operational standpoint. Not all data is created equally, and it should not be treated as such. Treating all data the same can have negative impacts in areas around backup and recovery, data migration and replication, archiving and general storage. Having to store and move large amounts of non-valuable information can be costly and counterproductive. To free up data storage resources, you can delete data that has no value, move it to cheaper storage, or archive it for long-term storage.
Tech Data provides solutions to aid companies in managing the full data lifecycle through solutions that allow businesses to audit data, assess its value, implement an ongoing data management plan and properly dispose of data. For more information on how we can help with your data needs, contact Tech Data’s Software and Security Solutions team at (800) 237-8931 ext. 71424.