Hello everyone and welcome back to the Cognixia podcast. Every week, we get together to talk about the latest happenings, bust some myths, discuss new concepts, and a lot more from the world of digital emerging technologies. From cloud computing to DevOps, containers to ChatGPT, and Project management to IT service management, we cover a little bit of everything week after week, to inspire our listeners to learn something new, sharpen their skills, and move ahead in their careers.
In this episode, we talk about something that is called data hoarding. We will talk about what is data hoarding, how organizations go about data hoarding, and why it is bad for individuals and especially bad for organizations. So, shall we begin?
Let us first understand what is data hoarding. Data hoarding is the excessive collection and retention of data. It is also sometimes referred to as digital hoarding. It is a growing challenge in the tech space. Countless organizations have a field time keeping on purchasing more and more storage space to accommodate the growing amount of data. Not just structured data but unstructured data is also growing enormously, necessitating increasing amounts of precious storage space. This is also leading to a major problem of disconnected data silos. Just as hoarding things in real life can be a problem, and mind you, Marie Kondo wrote a whole book about dealing with this, hoarding in the digital world is also a problem. This commonly happens when organizations tend to save data, maybe out of habit, out of the fear of losing it, out of hope that it will be useful someday, or even simply because they didn’t know any better.
A new study has found that 47% of consumers would stop buying from a company that fails to control how much unnecessary or unwanted data it is storing. Compare this to the fact that in this environment, 60% of Gen Z consumers have online accounts that they no longer use, and about 69% have never tried to close these unused accounts. This was found in a study conducted by Veritas Technologies. Useless data about these accounts lies unused in data centers, which keep using up electricity and resources. Experts opine that such useless data could account for roughly 2% of all global carbon emissions. 2% may not sound like a lot but to put this in perspective, take this – this size of the carbon footprint is the same size of the entire airline industry put together, the entire global aviation industry together! Now does that feel huge? Data centers around the world run 24 by 7 and by 2030, they are expected to be using up about 8% of all electricity that gets produced on the planet.
In the middle of that is the fact that most consumers are absolutely unaware of the impact of their own carbon footprint. 44% of the consumers surveyed said that it was wrong for businesses to waste energy and cause pollution by storing unnecessary information online. However, 51% also believe that electronic versions of their account-related statements and other documents stored online do not have any negative environmental impact. The Veritas study also found that 49% of the consumers surveyed thought that it was the responsibility of the organizations that store this data to delete it when it is no longer required or useful.
There is a slightly older study, conducted again, by Veritas Research, which found that about 35% of the enterprise data is dark. Dark data means that the data has an unknown value. It also found that about 50% of the data stored by organizations is redundant, obsolete, or trivial. A good move in this direction is that a lot of companies are now including the environmental impact of their data storage in their corporate environmental, social, and governance reports.
Data hoarding has more consequences than just the enlarged carbon footprint. It leads to increased costs of data storage, which can sometimes go mountain-high and rather unnecessary. It also slows down systems and applications, increasing the time that would be required for completing backups and other data management tasks. There are also compliance risks. The data can sometimes contain quite sensitive information so it could pose a compliance risk from a data security perspective. It would also be quite a risk from a cybersecurity perspective and could pose an exploitable opportunity for cybercriminals and hackers. Ransomware attacks are going up with time, and these attacks are increasingly targeting unstructured data, which is a large part of this dark data, making it a very important thing to get rid of as soon as possible, no?
According to a report by the IDC, about 60% of the storage budget is not really spent on storage. Instead, it is spent on secondary copies of data for data protection, such as backups, backup software licenses, replication, and disaster recovery. It also found that about one-third of IT organizations are spending most of their IT storage on this secondary data. This makes it important for organizations to define cold data storage strategies and work on establishing unstructured data management policies. The risk of not identifying and eliminating unnecessary data, basically the risk of not stopping data hoarding is too huge to ignore any longer.
This calls not just for organizations to take drastic measures to relook at what data they are storing and for how long, do they really need all the data they are storing, and if they do, then for how long do they need it. It would be useful if organizations raised awareness among consumers that it would be good for them to delete old, unused accounts, and give them the means to do that, no questions asked. The more consumers around the globe realize that it is not safe to share personal information everywhere randomly, and the impact the accounts they create and forget or abandon have on the environment, as well as for the organizations.
That’s some food for thought for all of us, isn’t it?
So maybe tonight, as you have your dinner, or tomorrow morning, as you brew your morning coffee, try remembering that long-lost email ID you had created all that time ago, the one that you don’t use anymore, or that astrology app you created an account on, hoping to get some clarity about what the future might hold for you, but abandoned the attempt mid-way, or that dating app where you signed up but never swiped on anyone, or that shopping website you signed up on to buy that cute t-shirt and never opened it since, go on, dig it up, and delete them all, maybe? A small step for you, a big step for mankind. Out of sight doesn’t always mean out of mind.
With that, we come to the end of this week’s episode. We hope you liked it and it will encourage you to think a little more about the consequences of our actions in day-to-day life and its impact on the planet. We will be back again next week with a fresh, new, insightful, and interesting episode of the Cognixia podcast.
Until then, happy learning!