Gartner defines dark data as “the information assets organisations collect, process and store during regular business activities, but generally fail to use for other purposes (for example, analytics, business relationships and direct monetising).”
The concept has been around for a few years now. This 2013 article in Forbes Magazine touted the potential of dark data. Now with the release in early May of a version of its HANA cloud platform for the Internet of Things, SAP is singing the praises of dark data from IoT for business transformation. Specifically data presently generated by ‘things’ in an enterprise but either not being collected because of an absence of sensors, or not being fully exploited.
Ryan Blackwood, SAP’s national director, database, business analytics and big data, suggests that dark data is where companies should be looking for their next major transformation.
He sees dark data that exists within enterprise networks but that has not yet been incorporated into the enterprise intelligence framework. “If we are able to do that without a lot of interfaces and without a lot of manipulation, an do it in real time, and translate that with analytics, this can really pay off.”
The key to business transformation
Blackwood told IoTAustralia: “We have seen how people can get incremental efficiency gains by improving back end processes, but that is not giving people the step change leaps into new business processes and new revenue streams. This is what IoT enables our customers to do. It gives them something unique in the market.”
He argues: “This is more than just driving operational efficiency gains like improving internal processes. It is about incorporating a lot for dark data telemetry data to generate new types of models whether they be new revenue streams, new products or new services. It is about how you expand your enterprise beyond your traditional corporate assets.
“This is what IoT enables our customers to do. It gives them something unique in the market… You can extrapolate that to almost any industry. Even to the public sector.”
Siemens taps SAP for Industry IoT
When it announced HANA for IoT, SAP also announced that Siemens had chosen the product to build an open cloud platform for analysing large datasets in the industry. “It is intended to simplify industrial customers’ ability to create additional value from the Internet of Things to help boost their own production as well as product and service offerings,” SAP said. “Siemens plans to create an open IT ecosystem for OEMs and application developers based on SAP HANA Cloud platform.”
Manufacturing is in decline in Australia and Blackwood sees the sectors with the greatest potential to exploit ‘dark data’ as being the public and resource sectors and financial services.
“I see public sector having a burning need for this today, and they want to do it: be they a local government organisation or a large health provider. In financial services it’s not so much the banks but tier two and tier three providers that want to differentiate themselves, and the resource sector that relies on telemetry data and geospatial data: a three or four percent reduction in maintenance costs can mean savings of 50-100 million dollars per year.”
However he offers a word of caution: advising any organisation to dip its toe into the dark data lake and not plunge in headfirst.
“The problem of big data and big data lakes is that it is very easy to drown very quickly. Prototype, pick an area of the business that is contained, where you can show some meaningful well-defined success criteria that can demonstrate how this new approach changes the way you do business. And look for data that is pretty clean and can be augmented quickly. This is not about boiling the ocean, it is about incremental gains proving out the capabilities to the business.”