Due to recent advances in technology, businesses now have access to a plethora of data on their customers. This is often used to understand them better, but also to create more targeted campaigns, develop holistic services for clients and determine direct business strategies. However, whilst the benefits of having large amounts of data is clear, has it ever crossed your mind as to whether we need all of it?

Challenging data

Sending emails, making phone calls, collecting information for campaigns; each day we create a massive amount of data just by going about our normal business and this data explosion does not seem to be slowing down. In fact, 90% of the data that currently exists was created in just the last two years, and because of this experts are predicting a 4,300% increase in annual data production by 2020. The problem with this data overload is while companies have realised the value data can bring, they’ve adopted the belief that simply collecting sheer volumes of it is what will bring the insights they’re craving. As such, they’re struggling to cope with the data they, revealing a fundamental lack of understanding of how data should be managed and used.

Many firms keep data “just in case” because they don’t know if it will be relevant in the futureClick To Tweet

The data that is kept and where it is stored can have a big impact on a company’s ability to turn data into a valuable asset. Many firms simply keep data “just in case” because they don’t know if it will be relevant in the future. This mind-set is doomed from the start as a lot of data has a set lifespan. What’s more, this mentality is often fuelled by the fear of deleting something of potential importance that can’t be retrieved at a later date (when asked for by a manager, for example), or to abide by compliance rules.

By piling up more and more data, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine what is useful and what isn’t. It also racks up the IT costs for storage and back-up. In fact, research has shown that of all the data many businesses are storing, on average 52% of it is considered “dark”, meaning there’s no real use for it and in effect it’s a waste of resources.

Where does the value in your data lie?

Fortunately, there are services and tools available to help businesses find value in the data they possess. One way is through data assessments, which look at existing data, gather intelligence and keep a regular eye on it; giving businesses the insight they need to decipher what is important to them.

Another to consider is machine learning which will help with the handling of data. This is particularly useful for SMEs as once it makes it past the early adopter phase, they will have an automated process in place that would previously have been costly in terms of man hours. However, until they’re able to put this in place, to make the most of the information they have at hand, smaller businesses should consider the storage solutions they’re using. They need to differentiate between which data they might need quick access to, which is likely to be the most the useful, and which is there just to be stored for compliancy’s sake.

These services can essentially take on the burden that comes with the current data explosion. As data is generated and changed constantly, these services can monitor each type as and when it comes along and set policies around it. Folders of documents that haven’t been accessed for years can be flagged and moved to more suitable locations. Businesses will then be empowered to take informed decisions about their data, armed with a greater level of insight into its contents and value.

Benefits to your business

By understanding how to maintain data more effectively, businesses can realise great operational benefits such as increased productivity and significant cost savings. With help from Insight’s Data Optimisation Service, organisations can gain visibility of data in its entirety and recommend services that provide continued analysis of customers’ environments. Maintaining data is costly, but intelligent assessments can help to identify the useful stuff and enable companies to take charge of the current data explosion.