Dark Data: ECM’s Headache

dark data

Dark Data. Sounds kinda scary, huh? Don’t worry, it’s not out to get you. But it could spell a lot of trouble for you and your organization. Essentially, dark data is just data that isn’t being detected. It could’ve been frequently accessed information that was integral to a project from a couple years ago, but then maybe you changed tracks and the files were abandoned to a labyrinthine vortex of folders from 2012…

This is usually very important information to a company that’s become “invisible” because it can’t be accessed easily. This is seeming to become a much bigger issue now as companies continue to stockpile data in different systems. Data is frequently entered into a multitude of locations, by different  people, all within the same line of business. This causes a headache for any business that needs to comply with any federal or corporate regulations.

While a lot of dark data is essentially just clutter, there are benefits to make it visible. Think of any old hard drives or servers that may contain some useful information down the line. The best way to approach dark data is to make connections between different files and assessing their usefulness. Opening up the world dark data really relies on your ability to connect data in structured databases to data in unstructured ones.

Some ECM solutions have provided a way to “recycle” dark data. Through this process, data and its metadata are constantly being updated with new information so that it never truly goes dark. Through this practice, businesses benefit from gains in efficency, since typically 70% of data is recreated at some point.

There is no cookie cutter way to determine whether your company is experiencing a dark data problem. However, there are certain hints that may give you a clue. For example, an audit taking a bit too long because the information took too long to track down or a bottleneck in work flow could all be signifiers that you may have a problem.