Understanding the different types of data positions – data offensive or data defence.
Companies are either on the data offensive or data defence – and organisations need to move to being on the offensive to actively take hold of data and make tangible use of it.
There is a huge amount of data that any company will gather over time. This can be deliberate, and be something that you have set out to obtain, or it can be something that simply gathers as a result of the IT systems that we all use.
There are two ways a business can approach this data, and it’s a choice between a position of defence or offensive. One could hold you back, but the other is much more positive, allowing you to push your company into new areas and target your approach so that you achieve exactly what you need to.
The defensive approach
Data defence is the traditional approach to managing the information that your company holds. It’s all the regular things that have to be done with large amounts of data, such as maintaining security to make sure none of it leaks or is compromised. It’s the governance of data, the everyday handling of it and the processes around it.
This also includes ensuring privacy and making sure that the quality of the data is up to scratch. These are certainly things that have to be done with data that is gained in a commercial context, and many of them are done to make sure that your business falls in line with whichever set of regulations you have to adhere to. It’s a case of preventing data from becoming a problem – rather than seeing it as a valuable asset.
This is the approach that many companies take towards data, and the one that can seem to be sensible and correct. That is, until you look further than the data defence attitude and closer at what could otherwise be done. There are opportunities to take the data that you have and use it to push your business on to the next step.
Go on the offensive
Being on the data offensive is about taking the wealth of information that you have at your disposal and exploring the possibilities of what it can do for your business in a proactive sense. Whereas data defence is about making sure that everything is in order, data offensive sees you pushing the boundaries and creating new opportunities.
The data that you have at your disposal can open doors for your business that were closed before. This information can support marketing and help to target outbound campaigns, making sure you are reaching the right people in the right way. In turn, this helps to build new revenue, all of which can lead to further data being gathered as time goes on.
Data management can be at the forefront of your company’s strategy rather than being something that simply has to be done. In the modern, digital world the companies that are using data well are those that are harnessing its power and using it to change their behaviour and the way they work. Data is driving their behaviour and they are allowing it to take the lead rather than letting their existing behaviour govern the way data is collected and protected.
A light in the dark
There is another kind of data out there that might not seem so full of opportunity until it is put under the microscope and given a closer look.
Dark data, as it is known, is the information that tends to be ignored by businesses and just builds up in the background over time. This could be server logs, data about old employees, and outdated login information, for example. In his book Dark Data: A Business Definition, Isaac Sacolik describes it as “data that is kept ‘just in case’ but hasn’t (so far) found a proper usage.” (1)
Much of this data will be seen as having little or no value to your firm, and simply something that is given the minimum amount of attention to make sure it is secure and stored correctly. But harnessing this data can be a big step in the process of moving towards data offensive and taking your company forward.
Any business that finds itself in possession of a significant amount of dark data needs to look at how to harness the opportunities that it can create, and how to capitalise on that information and turn it into something proactive rather than letting it impact your business’ resources.
While dark data can be turned to good use and create opportunities, the failure to do this could pose a risk to your company. Instead of letting it become a burden on your business, why not turn dark data into something positive?
Most companies are currently stuck in the data defence approach, but there are new solutions to this problem that can put you on the offensive. Dark data could be the key to where you go next, helping you to explore new avenues that you hadn’t thought of before. This approach will become even more effective as data analytics tools become standardised and the ability to pull information from the unlikeliest of sources increases through technology such as IoT sensors.
There is a wealth of information that any company builds up over time, and the choices are either to let it become a drain on what you do or harness the power that it can give you and allow it to take you forward.