Dark data; it may sound like science fiction, but the implications of your company holding unstructured, unidentified information are very real. Not only are businesses wasting thousands of pounds every year storing unnecessary information, but with the upcoming GDPR, a lack of information governance could cost your company the equivalent of €20 million or 4% of your annual global turnover — whichever is higher. These grave penalties for data management non-compliance could spell insolvency or even the closure of some firms. So, how can your business avoid data hoarding?
Did you know your data has a dark side?
But how much of this information is critical to the running of your business? According to market research experts Vanson Bourne, over half (52%) of the average company’s information is entirely unclassified; there’s no visibility over its age, ownership or location. This data holds no legal or business value whatsoever, it’s your dark data.
There’s a good reason companies have been blindly data hoarding, mind you. Data has always been required for regulatory purposes; authorities request businesses hold on to information for a number of years, for auditing purposes. Whether it’s actually identified or being stored efficiently, companies have generally followed a ‘safe not sorry’ approach to keeping their sensitive information. Not to mention, it’s more straightforward; sorting and controlling fragmented data is considered a more complex operation.
How much is dark data costing you?
According to Veritas, the average cost of data storage is USD 5 million per year, per petabyte. This covers everything from infrastructure, electricity, depreciation and tax. That’s the equivalent of 38.3 million pounds for the average company’s annual storage costs, today.
If only 15% of your company’s data is business critical, and over half is dark, that’s almost 20 million pounds a year to store data that holds no value. Moving your data storage to the cloud, however, can instantly reduce the operational costs of holding your business information, lowering the cost of storage by up to 90% per terabyte.
According to a survey by Veritas, 72% of office professionals and IT decision makers confess to being data hoarders.
Read more stats about data hoarding in the full infographic.
Why is the GDPR important?
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in May 2018, and will affect all businesses that hold any information from European Union customers, whether they are based in the EU or not. This means that Brexit, when it comes to fruition, will not exclude UK businesses that do business within the EU.
There are there are many aspects of data storage that enterprises must adhere to, to be GDPR compliant. Information must be:
- Processed lawfully and fairly, and in a transparent way
- Collected for specific, explicit, and legitimate purposes
- Limited to only what is necessary
- Kept accurate and up-to-date
- Stored so that the subject is identified only when necessary
- Processed in a secure manner so it does not fall into the wrong hands or become lost, damaged, or destroyed
- Developed with privacy in mind
Point 4 is particularly pertinent when considering the consequences of unnecessary data hoarding.
How to manage your data
In order to audit and manage your unidentified data, there are a few steps that can be followed:
- Create a strategy around your data lifecycle and a realistic timeframe for data removal
- Identify and classify the types of data that your company is keeping, and the length of time required to store it
- Audit your data storage budget for more transparency on how much your information is costing you
- Identify and allocate business areas where data can be removed, to save money
- Put processes in place for data erasure going forward
- Continually evaluate and optimise your information governance processes
So, the financial implications of inefficient data management are two-fold. Not only are businesses spending huge chunks of their annual budgets on storing dark data, directly impacting the bottom line, but the risk of unaudited or unmanaged data hoarding will have far more serious consequences in the case of a breach or GDPR non-compliance.
With the volume of business and personal data growing exponentially year-on-year, it can be complex and time-heavy to manage internally. With the GDPR so close, some businesses have turned to third-party experts to provide holistic information governance services.
Make sure your business is GDPR ready by arming yourself with the right information and becoming compliant. Our partnership with Veritas offers businesses deep insights on their data estates, simplifying the process of structuring critical data and erasing unnecessary information.