What is dark data? stepping into the light

Dark data comprises immense volumes of unused and unstructured data, which includes important customer data - here's how you make use of it.

Dark data is not as sinister as the name might suggest – comprising immense volumes of unused and unstructured data. This data includes email conversations, customer accounts, customer complaints, raw survey data, knowledge-based articles, meeting minutes, and other information.

According to the International Data Corporation, 90% of unstructured data is never analysed. Such data is known as dark data. In short, dark data is data that sits there, inhabiting terabytes of disk space, barely visible, and difficult to access and traverse.

Take the example of a bank analysing online applications for credit cards. The credit card marketing team is focused solely on customer details and eligibility but no attention is paid to the data on how the customer arrived at the application page. This unattended data could have provided valuable insights into the usability of the bank website and the application page.

Read on to find out more about the world of dark data and how it is not as sinister as it sounds.

Dark data – an untapped resource for better analytics

The amount of data we produce every day is truly astounding. There are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day at our current pace.

Though this massive treasure trove of unstructured data could hold valuable insights if it were to be organised and, subsequently, analysed, it is currently in the “dark”. Potentially highly influential/valuable in the decision-making processes of a business, dark data is often waiting indefinitely to be evaluated and analysed via strong data analytics platforms.

Instead of leaving that untapped potential just sitting there, unlocking and allowing AI systems to learn from this data could help organisations reveal new insights and knowledge that might yield a greater competitive advantage.

Dark data could constitute a plethora of information sources, from email conversations to customer accounts and information to papers and research conducted. This sort of data is hard for your everyday software to seamlessly sift through and organise.

Additionally, this data is especially valuable because it often holds information that is not available in any other format. However, only some companies invest laborious hours into sifting through the data to extract valuable insights. What if your company did not have to do that?

With the advent of sophisticated data analytics platforms that incorporate machine learning and AI capabilities, we are now at the cusp of vanquishing dark data and bringing it, quite literally, into the light. The ability to transform this data into actionable insights can supercharge any business and industry in this day and age.

How do we extract and analyse dark data?

In an information-driven world, all the employees within an organisation, from the front lines to the executive suites, share a common need: the right information delivered at the right time, in the right context. The information collected by organisations on an annual basis is a few quintillion bytes of useful but largely ignored branch of data.

This dark data certainly represents unused opportunities that many companies are letting go of because of the process, investment, and technology constraints.

The advent of sophisticated data analytics platforms like SAS allows organisations across industries to instantly mine these data stores for machine learning and other real-time applications.

Superior data analytics platforms utilise machine learning to decipher the significant volumes of data rushing through the gates. This opens up the possibility of quickly and automatically producing models that can analyse bigger, more complex data and deliver faster, more accurate results – even at a very large scale. By building precise models, an organisation has a better chance of identifying profitable opportunities – or avoiding unknown risks.

Key takeaways

Considering the increasing awareness and usage of big data and data analytics, there is now a large demand to organise dark data and make it usable. A developing area, the potential value and insights of large amounts of dark data remain undetermined but promising.

For more information on the exciting world of dark data and how your organisation can utilise dark data through powerful data analytics platforms, check out the rest of our blogs.


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