By Clark Richey, FactGem
What Is Invisible Data?
The term, invisible data is a relatively new buzzword that is frequently appearing in articles, conference talks and business meetings. But what is it? Invisible data refers to data that is critical to the operation of the organization, but is not managed by any of the plethora of existing enterprise IT systems.
How can that happen? How can a retail company with a significant IT program fail to capture critical data? The answer is surprisingly simple. Invisible data refers to the information that is filled by the efforts of individual employees to fill the gap between what enterprise IT is able to provide and what is required to get the job done. One example that is frequently seen in retail are analytics and reports, such as basket analyses, which are often produced by employees gathering data from multiple existing enterprise systems and generating their report/analytic locally, often using Microsoft Excel™. This document is used for a meeting or similar function, but is never centrally managed.
Invisible data also can refer to information that exists within the enterprise, but is inaccessible to those that need it, often due to the constraints of existing systems. Retail companies with an online presence often have a lot of this type of data, as the systems used to collect information about online activity often produce a massive amount of information. Organizations typically only manage and utilize a small portion of that data, grabbing the information that is most clearly valuable. However, the rest of the information can often be very valuable, as well, when connected to other pieces of corporate data and analyzed by the right people. This inaccessible data, unseen by most of the company, is another example of invisible data.
So why is this a problem? Numerous reasons:
Materializing The Invisible
So now that we know what invisible data is, and how it can affect businesses, what can we do about it? The good news is that there several things that can be done to minimize the impact of invisible data and even to eventually eliminate it altogether.
Remember, you are not alone! Invisible data is a common problem, especially with larger retail organizations. With a little diligence, you can gain control of, and eventually remove, your invisible data!
About The Author
Clark Richey is the Chief Technology Officer at FactGem. He has over 20 years of experience designing and developing software, primarily for the defense and intelligence sectors.