Making sense of Dark Data

By: Sonny Zulhuda

BIG-DATAWhile big data is by now a commonly heard term, dark data is not. Some participants in the recently-held Singapore Symposium whispered to me that they had never heard about the term – so you can say they were in dark about Dark Data.

The term is new to me as well! Except that I have had a little earlier opportunity than those guys to read about it and to finally make sense of it.

It all rooted from the fact that we have had an abundance of data around us, and how much those abundant data are capable of being sourced as information. Yes, it is about Big Data. As we know, Big Data is about quantifying everything possible to be a data. A person’s identity is no longer depending on what is printed on documents (ID, passport, certificates) about him. A person is now identifiable from his mumbling words, his movement, his location, his mood and even the pattern of what he will do every day. All those data are being quantified and measured due to their availability from myriads of media, devices, and interactions (both human and artificial). What makes it possible? You name it: Mobile gadgets, Social media, CCTVs and commercial transactions you have been making, to name a few.

In organisational life, the same is happening. More and more data are collected and stored by organisations, manually and electronically. Data of employees (and their mumbling words, movements, location, mood, etc.), of visitors, of business transactions, of internal meetings, of vendor’s works, of all reports, records and repositories, etc. are increasingly collected, stored…. but not necessarily used. In many occasions those data are no longer usable after their first collection, and yet they still fill up the organisation’s storage (recent research indicates that these unusable data may stack up to 70% of oganisations’ data).

Those are dark data. Untapped, untagged and sometimes unknown data.

Now is this: the fact that they remain unused does not mean they are valueless. You can run this simple test: Should you dump all these data to your competitor or any third party, would there be a loss to suffer? What about a competitive loss, breach of secrets, infringement of privacy, reputation loss, legal liability? If yes, then such Dark Data should be urgently managed.

That is the first message that I delivered in my 1-hour talk in Singapore yesterday.

Information Governance and Dark Data Management

By: Sonny Zulhuda

Next week on 7th July 2015. Carlton Hotel, Singapore. The event’s name is Innoxcell Asia Symposium 2015 on Legal Risk, Compliance, e-Discovery, Financial Crime, Corporate Governance and Data Privacy.

I will be speaking on one compelling issue concerning the information governance, namely dark data management.

Dark Data (credit: http://www.cio.in)

Dark Data (credit: http://www.cio.in)

Techopedia defines “dark data” as “a type of unstructured, untagged and untapped data that is found in data repositories and has not been analyzed or processed. It is similar to big data but differs in how it is mostly neglected by business and IT administrators in terms of its value.”

Dark data is operational data that is not being used. Consulting and market research company Gartner Inc. describes dark data as “information assets that organizations collect, process and store in the course of their regular business activity, but generally fail to use for other purposes.” (Citation from TechTarget).

It was reported in Forbes that these class of data, similar to dark matter in physics, cannot be seen directly, yet it is the bulk of the organizational universe.

The background of this talk is the fact that the amount of operational information —both structured and unstructured— that companies create and store are drastically increasing due to digitisation and mobility. Dark data management emerged as another challenge for corporate information governance. Under the increasing pressure from new regulatory regime and consumer expectation, corporate data must be well managed if companies wish to survive in today’s information age.

In this session I will explore the nature of corporate information legal risks in the context the Big Data and offers insights on information governance to transform data from a liability into an asset.

For more on the event: Innoxcell Asia Symposium 2015 on Legal Risk, Compliance, e-Discovery, Financial Crime, Corporate Governance and Data Privacy. Will be speaking alongside prominent international speakers, who can be retrieved from here.

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