Most data in organisations is “junk,” difficult to get context: CommVault

Back-up vendor recommends adopting an open minded approach when looking for value in unstructured data

Big Data without context is just noise, according to CommVault A/NZ area vice president, Bryan Stibbard.

While data may be constantly growing in organisations, Stibbard warns that bigger does not necessarily mean better and not all of the data is useful.

“There is a lot of junk sitting in your organisation,” he said.

“The reality is that you may not know how much of it is junk, how to access to it, or how to qualify and quantify what is junk data.”

The challenge with big data is how to get context and use out of that information to make it more useful.

“Just having lots of data does not mean it is useful,” Stibbard said.

With the explosion of information and the landscape shifting from merely people creating data to machines creating it as well, Stibbard said that most data these days is unstructured.

When it comes to businesses, he also said that data is sitting in separate silos in the business.

“Some of that data may be stored in the Cloud, either by choice or by accident in services such as SkyDrive and Dropbox,” Stibbard said.

“This is not because people want to subvert the process or do something dangerous with that data, but just to have access to that data while on the move.”

Hedgehog’s dilemma

When it comes to dealing with Big Data, Stibbard said it usually split into hedgehog and fox thinking.

By that, the fox may know many small things and how to be adaptable, but the hedgehog focuses on one large thing at a time.

“Ideally, fox thinking is a more adaptable way to be in business and to get a real understanding of the data that provides value,” Stibbard said.

That is because the hedgehog is only concerned with one thing and specialisation, and in turn may be a bit overconfident and stubborn.

“They believe in what they are doing and that they have the right approach to managing their information,” Stibbard said.

“The also look at big data as driving all of their decisions for them.”

What fox thinking is really trying to do is “get away from that existing mould” and be “more adaptable.”

“It’s about taking new ideas onboard and not being stuck in the past,” Stibbard said.

“It goes beyond Big Data and is about smart data, so you can get some value from it.”

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.