The banks and financial services of the future will have several different manifestations due to the impact of financial technology and the Internet as financial providers can collect vast amounts of user data from various sources. However, the majority of this data gets unused or remains unstructured, or is not analysed. The data could be either valuable data or unnecessary, how can businesses tell? Iron Mountain (NYSE: IRM), the global leader for storage and information management services enabling digital transformation, has released the Smart and Secure Data Management In A Circular Economy guide on how to answer this question as well as other intriguing questions posed by financial executives.

Corporate information leaders in financial services have a key role to play in leveraging the data available to them to achieve greater sustainability together with increased efficiency and, in doing so, increase profitability. Iron Mountain has identified three ways that Chief Information Officers (CIOs) can uncover dark or unstructured data in their organisations to harness unrealised opportunities.

  1. Identify sources of dark data and create a data management strategy

The first step towards tackling the dark data challenge is identifying what organisations have and where it lives. The types and sources of dark data vary by industry, but almost anything generated by digital activity has the potential to be dark data. This includes emails, instant messages, recorded audio, video calls, and even structured data in the form of standardized system log (Syslog) files.

  1. Enforce data-management policies

Financial services operate in one of the most heavily regulated sectors of all, and customers are becoming increasingly wary of who they do business with. Organisations need to implement robust data management policies that provide the flexibility required to leverage data for analytics and give access to necessary data for employees to do their jobs. At the same time, data security and compliance must be inserted by design, including adherence to crucial data retention requirements. 

  1. Deploy the right technology systems

As advances in technology have outpaced many organizations’ ability to keep up, CIOs should look to integrated business management systems (IBMS) to consolidate the data they have to make it easier to manage at scale. Newer IBMS also increase efficiencies and security when handling data reducing the likelihood of data becoming dark and increasing strategic advantages.

“We put the book together as a combined effort between our subject matter experts at Iron Mountain, by listening to and understanding the current and ongoing real-life hurdles of our global financial sector customers.  The hurdles that slow them down from reaching their corporate goals.  The result of the book is to avoid these hurdles, look out for twists in their data journey, be sustainable and carefully and swiftly align technology and innovation to the ever-changing compliance and regulatory landscape” said Aaron Kalvani, InSight Solution Engineer, Iron Mountain.

Data is one of the most abundant resources of all, and a lot of it does nothing more than sit on server farms consuming energy and going unused for analytics. Understanding dark data is not only important from a profitability perspective for highly regulated verticals such as the banking and insurance industries for instance, but also from a data protection perspective too. Organisations can’t protect what they can’t see. This poses regulatory – such as noncompliance to POPIA, reputational, intelligence and sustainability risks. To reduce such risk, firms must be able to find, classify, and manage all of their sensitive data, regardless of where it lives and which format it is stored in.

“Our guide offers a holistic view of the risks and the opportunities for financial services presented by dark data. Aside from being a massive lost opportunity for firms to derive valuable insights, dark data can greatly increase an organization’s risk footprint in myriad ways. These include increased risks of data breaches or compliance violations. Then there are the higher costs of infrastructure and other resources to store the data, which in turn leads to reduced sustainability and compliance with environmental laws and standards as well as Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policies. By consolidating and integrating their data streams, financial organisations can turn dark data into actionable insights that fuel greater efficiency and, in turn, a circular economic model” said Takalane Khashane, Managing Director, Iron Mountain South Africa.

For more information on how banks and other financial institutions can leverage dark data, please click here.

Editor@tech-talk.co.za