“Dark Data”, the CDO and creating organizational value

Posted by at 12:01h

Given the immense amounts of data that organizations increasingly possess, it should come as no surprise to realize that most of these organizations do not fully utilize the value their data holds. In fact, it’s become increasingly apparent that many of these companies may not necessarily know what kind or how much information they truly have under their control.

Gartner has taken note of this phenomenon, calling it “dark data,” and defining it as “the information assets organizations collect, process and store during regular business activities, but generally fail to use for other purposes.” Which begs the question: how can companies take advantage of all their data, if they really don’t know what they have or where it even resides?

It’s important because if you don’t have the ability to be able to figure out and understand relationships between data, then as an organization you are not able to monetize the data, or leverage valuable insights for accurate and informed decision-making, support business growth or obtain a competitive advantage. To get the most from the information in what Gartner terms “Infonomics;” is the ability to measure, manage and monetize data. Gartner takes it one step further, recommending that even mid-sized enterprises hire a chief data officer, or CDO1. Gartner suggests that the CDO’s primary objectives should be to manage the company’s information assets, deliver insights to the business to improve corporate decision-making, which can generate incremental business value.

The CDO plays a significant role in helping the organization value its data across the enterprise. CDOs are focused on maximizing the value of organizational data, and effectively navigating the shift towards managing data like any other revenue-generating asset. Therefore, they must also address their organizations’ “dark data” and put in place appropriate strategies to manage it. Data loads have grown too large, and are too disperse, for CDOs not to account for “dark data.” Simply put, figure out how you can leverage all of the data under your control to help generate revenue or demonstrate cost savings for the business.

So, here’s the bottom line: If you don’t consider your data to be an asset, it’s probably time to change your thinking. Treat all of your data the way you would any other valuable asset at your company. Figure out exactly what you have, where you have it, how you manage it, and how you can leverage it to benefit your bottom line.

Pay close attention to Gartner’s “Infonomics” model. Right now, it’s their approach and term; I have a feeling that before long, we’re all going to know what they’re talking about. I’m sure that those of us who adopt their approach will benefit to a far greater degree than those who don’t.


1 Gartner “Why Midsize Enterprises Need a Chief Data Officer”