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Enterprise data visibility: a different look on dark data from every angle

Sep 7, 2021 by Monique Devine

dark data

In a recent global intelligence survey of 1,300 IT, business and executive leaders, more than half estimated that “dark data” comprised 55% or more of their organization’s data – that’s data that is uncaptured, unknown and unused within the organization. IDC has stated the reality could be as high as 90%. No matter the percentage, dark data inhibits strategic and daily operational decision-making, increases organizational risk, reduces employee efficiency and lengthens the timelines of critical initiatives.

To combat dark data and shine a light on available data, many organizations are turning to data intelligence software. These applications help IT and data governance teams automatically harvest and enrich technical metadata from diverse data sources across the enterprise for use within one central repository, add business context for clarity, establish guardrails for use and protection, and provide a mechanism to socialize and leverage it for strategic and tactical value.

However, to be truly valuable and practically used, data must meet many different daily needs and reflect the same enterprise “data truths” through a variety of different organizational lenses. Here are just a few examples:

Information technology

IT data stewards and data custodians need visibility to efficiently discover and manage all of an organization’s data assets. Data intelligence software minimizes the amount of dark data hidden from sight throughout the organization and expands the reach of data stewards and data custodians to help the enterprise more fully utilize and protect their data. When data visibility is paired with governance, stewards and custodians can more easily and accurately operationalize rules and policies.

IT data architects, data engineers and developers can leverage the data lineage capabilities found in data intelligence applications to better design and develop business solutions. With business context tied to data assets, IT is in a better position to speed data discovery and analysis, understand business needs and deliver business value faster. Impact analysis capabilities within data intelligence software additionally arm IT with the visibility needed to better understand potential change, proactively avoid landmines and make best-interest decisions.

IT teams can also benefit from dashboards and other visualizations that provide a holistic, bird’s eye view of an organization’s data landscape – to understand overall data source composition, sensitive data distribution, and more – as well as drill down to the supporting details required to take action. The more complete the picture of an organization’s data landscape, or the less dark data inside, the better IT can manage and protect data as an asset.

Data governance teams

For providing both business context and guidance, governance teams require far-reaching data visibility and the ability to quickly discover and associate the technical and business data assets they manage. Augmented AI discovery capabilities found in data intelligence applications help data stewards zero-in on potential asset matches, saving valuable time in data classification and asset association.

Mind maps, or knowledge graphs, give governance teams the ability to easily see and drill into the data asset relationships that surround a business asset. With a more complete understanding of these relationships, governance teams are in a better position to ensure the proper guidance is in place.

Data stewardship is a herculean effort for today’s data-driven organizations who are working to maximize the strategic value of data, protect against data risk and extend data literacy throughout the enterprise. Dashboards and other visualizations that track and highlight the progress of data stewardship efforts are critical to moving data governance programs forward.

Within the business

Business analysts and other business users count on immediate visibility into data that quickly points to the best data to use for a specific analysis or decision. It’s critical that users have access to a current enterprise data catalog that provides business context and appropriate guidelines for how to use, and not use, the data. Elastic, ranked search and AI capabilities, as well as social and collaborative tools that showcase data validation received from other business users – such as star ratings – can dramatically speed up the search for the “right” data. The gamification of data stewardship helps to encourage and extend data literacy throughout the organization.

Business users also benefit from access to data lineage, mind maps and other visualizations to quickly and fully understand the context and relationships of the data they are working with – all while helping to ensure data is leveraged correctly.

Data visibility should also include the identification of sensitive data to ensure compliance with data privacy regulations such as GPDR, CCPA and others. A key benefit of data intelligence software and its ability to provide a more complete picture of an organization’s data landscape is to minimize the risk associated with sensitive data hidden inside dark data. Noting sensitive data classifications throughout visualizations helps ensure data remains protected, while making it easier for risk and compliance teams to respond to audits and produce compliance reports.


The need for enterprise data visibility varies greatly according to organizational perspective. erwin® Data Intelligence Suite by Quest® lessens the amount of dark data inside an organization and supports and unites IT, data governance teams and business users to increase data visibility for everyone. erwin Data Intelligence facilitates data discovery, simplifies navigation and promotes the understanding of data assets, business context and data governance protocols.

With erwin Data Intelligence, organizations are improving time to value for key business initiatives such as digital transformation and cloud migration; optimizing regulatory and risk compliance efforts; and increasing enterprise data literacy.

Recently released erwin Data Intelligence 11 further expands enterprise data visibility through new, interactive IT and data stewardship dashboards, enhanced mind map capabilities, AI evolution and more. Watch this 7-minute video or request a personalized demo to learn how Quest can help you shine a more powerful light on your data.