Magazine article Information Management

Information at the Edge of Enterprise: Big Data.Dark Data.Your Data

Magazine article Information Management

Information at the Edge of Enterprise: Big Data.Dark Data.Your Data

Article excerpt

Enterprises have been handling "big" sets of data for decades, but recently "big data" has become a buzzword. Research from a 2012 IBM study reveals a sharp rise in the number of organizations now planning big data projects. What is the big deal with big data, and what do records professionals need to know?

The definition of big data continues to evolve, but we commonly hear it described in terms of its "volume, velocity, and variety" by Gartner Inc. and as the "frontier of a firm's ability to store, process, and analyze" information by Forrester Research. Big data reflects how your organization identifies, analyzes, and uses new sources of information to make decisions about information that - until recently - was too difficult, expensive, or time consuming to access.

Big data may be generated inside or outside your organization from sources previously untapped for business value. These sources will lie at the edge of your enterprise: mobile, web, or socially generated information such as sensor data, rich media, or transactional log files.

Once utilized, big data may be relegated to unmanaged storage media, putting this information on the periphery of a governance plan. Information governance strategies must be reviewed to help ensure risk mitigation efforts and retention policies cover big data initiatives.

The rise of the "Internet of things" means that big data can include structured data from mobile and sensor devices. Geotags, logs, transactional systems, web analytics, and readings from diagnostic or environmental sensors are all sources of big data. IDC Research identifies machine-generated data as the fastest-growing source of information, pushing global storage into the zettabyte (a trillion terabytes) zone.

How Can Records Professionals Engage?

Businesses in regulated industries, such as financial services or health care, are seeking new insights from big data to optimize trade and customer engagement, as well as to identify fraud and risk patterns. Records managers must understand how big data is used by their organizations.

Records professionals have an opportunity to guide their organizations when considering how big data analytics can improve business decisions. With each new opportunity, there comes new risk, however. Data that lies idle, unmanaged, and unused quickly goes dark as context is lost. This dark data typically accumulates in log files, decommissioned databases, e-mail servers, or archives and may contain information about people, places, or online activities, presenting privacy risks. …

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