Shedding light on dark data: An untapped resource for Australian businesses to gain customer insights

Analysis of what the industry has coined “dark data” has become too important to ignore

Analysis of what the industry has coined “dark data” has become too important to ignore. IDC and Dell EMC estimate that by 2020, the world will have 40 zettabytes of data, and a 2016 Veritas Global Databerg Survey indicates that as much as 85% of this data will be dark[i]. This means that the majority of the world’s consumer and business data is inaccessible, thanks to the proliferation of siloed messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, private social accounts and email, as well as structured data locked in text reports, PDFs, log files and more.

Dark data is often what provides the most analytical value but because of its inaccessibility, these sources are frequently neglected. In a world where customer experience reigns supreme, these zillions of bytes are the key unlocking invaluable consumer insights and sentiment. A data-first culture is what will drive superior employee experiences and give businesses the ability to deeply understand and anticipate the customer’s needs – a significant advantage in an increasingly competitive market.

Despite the importance of dark data, Australian organisations are lagging behind global businesses when it comes to analysing it. In Bluewolf’s latest research, we found that only 8% of local businesses analyse dark data, compared with 21% globally, and over half (55%) admit that they are not looking to analyse dark data in the near future, a concerning sentiment also reflected by businesses globally (52%).

However, as more businesses understand the need to digitally transform, the neglect of dark data is projected to improve. This sentiment is also reflected in the findings with over one third (37%) of Australian businesses planning to invest in technologies that help to shed light on dark data in the next five years. One example of this is access to intelligent analytics, which will massively transform the way employees use technology – enhancing their capabilities, and boosting their performance by favouring insights over intuition – to ultimately transform business impact.

Further to this, many tech savvy businesses in Australia are finding that augmented intelligence (AI) is the key to unlocking unstructured dark data from channels like social feeds, natural language, and even medical imagery. While the majority of this raw, unstructured data is collected by organisations, without the power of AI, it is difficult to actually analyse its implications – or understand the actions to take.

At this stage, businesses tend to focus on drawing insights from the data they themselves generate, which is a great start. However, exploring the consumer side of data is still a largely unmapped territory, even as it grows increasingly prevalent. By increasing Australian businesses’ investment in AI capabilities, even if the data hygiene is not perfect, marketing and sales departments will have a truly 360-degree view of their customer. This is a significant advantage and a critical factor in driving sales effectiveness.

Australia’s business leaders are beginning to understand the importance of tapping into their dark data and using analytics. However, to achieve success, the next step is to start investing in the technology to make that happen.

Aniqa Tariq is managing director of ANZ at Bluewolf


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