a picture with an iceberg with most of it underwater

Most of your data is not being used, when it can have a great impact on your business.

You are wasting 90pc of your company’s potential

EVERY day, the world produces 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. That is 18 zeros after the decimal point.

For easier comprehension, it is 2.5 million terabytes, which can fill about 100 million blue-ray disks.

Of that enormous pile, 90 percent goes unused. Companies are wasting the opportunity to analyze it, create insights, and propel their businesses forward.

Data scientists have a name for that “wasteland of untapped information”: Dark Data.

Fortified with critical information about behaviors, habits, and choices of end-users, customers, and other stakeholders, dark data can be harnessed to transform the decision-making process.

It’s difficult for companies to track down every source of data available to them. Many organizations run disparate systems that don’t talk to each other. This means they need to take more time to extract, clean, and standardize data before using it for analysis.

On top of that, they need experts to make sense of the daa, and connect that to practical actions that can help them improve their businesses. Without the right people to connect the dots, organizations might get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information, and be crippled by it instead.

Increasingly, companies are looking at the data they’ve gathered, and bring it out to light. For example, PepsiCo uses data gathered through social media and sales platform to anticipate future demands.

Airlines use data to determine new routes, or customer film and food preferences. Even manufacturers rely on it to schedule maintenance work. Similarly, small businesses can use data captured on sensors such as customer footfall to optimize opening hours.

Even Apple bought Lattice Data for US$200 million back in May. Lattice Data is an analytics company that uses artificial intelligence to convert dark data into usable data.

To help businesses get started, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) listed some tips before businesses start digging for their dark data

#1 | Question

They suggest companies start with a business question. These would serve as a guideline to what data you need. For example, what information do you need about your customers? What are the business risks or opportunities in the market?

#2 | Data sources

Don’t get stuck with just your internal data, use external sources as well. There are plenty open sources where you can get more information about behaviors or activities that are relevant to your business. It will help you build a more complete picture of your customers and the market trends.

#3 | Skills

It’s important to have the right people working on your data. IT, data, and statistics skills are just as important as people with a business understanding, who ask the right questions, and are able to interpret the results.

#4 | Culture

Create a culture that values data. Many companies still isolate tech and data as a separate function. By not integrating it with your decision-making processes, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. It’s important to create a collaborative culture, that encourages cross-departmental working.

Ultimately, it takes the commitment from top management, to see the potential gold mine in dark data.  Management needs to be determined in changing operations, to drive transformation across the entire organization and realize its potential.