UK CIOs have revealed the huge extent of dark (unused) and unstructured data lurking within and posing a threat to medium and large organisations. Nine out of 10 respondents in research by Crown Records Management say that unstructured ‘data oceans’ – a wealth of data which is difficult to view, access and secure – are a problem and pose risks of security and noncompliance with data regulations.
As much as 59% of data across UK organisations is unstructured while 40% of data is ‘dark’ or unused. Given that IDC found that 90% of unstructured data is never analysed organisations are in unchartered waters when it comes to managing risk, fulfilling personal information requests under GDPR or gaining intelligence from their information. 51% said unstructured data was a security risk and 49% said it put them in danger of noncompliance.
But it’s not all about data risks. If managed effectively, unstructured data appears to hold the key to further business success. 64% said they could improve operational efficiency and productivity by tapping into unstructured data more. 34% said they could grow sales, 32% felt customer loyalty could be improved and 31% saw it as a source of improving employee engagement.
Crown Records Management, which helps organisations manage their data securely and effectively, found that data was commonly stored in over 20 types of locations. While the most common were databases, the cloud and back-up systems, it’s alarmingly frequent for both used and unused data to be held in hard to reach places with limited security protection. For all used data 29% said it was held on laptop hard-drives, 22% said email accounts and 21% said filing cabinets. For all dark data 19% said people’s desks and drawers, 17% said written notes and 12% said employees’ homes were all storage locations.
Unstructured data is becoming more difficult to manage due to its complexity. Crown’s research showed that unstructured data is split evenly into paper files, data in original electronic documents and data in scanned copies of documents. Respondents also revealed the types of unstructured data they are most worried about:
- 90% were concerned about data in written documents
- 88% were concerned about emails
- 85% were concerned about social media
- 85% were concerned about handwritten documents and forms.
Given that these sources aren’t adequately protected or easily accessed when data is required, organisations are afraid of security breaches and not being able to provide data within necessary timeframes.