Avoiding the Data Pack Rat Trap

Are you becoming a data pack rat? If your organization is like the rest of ours, the amount of data your agency collects and sifts through on a daily basis is increasing exponentially.  How much of this data is even worth keeping? Data, in and of itself, is not worth much unless you can turn that data into something that has value to your agency.  Making sense of the mountains of data may be a challenge, but don’t hit the delete button just yet.

This is where the data, information, knowledge, and wisdom (DIKW) pyramid comes into play. The DIKW concept has traditionally been associated with knowledge management, but recently has experienced resurgence because of its applicability to data analytics.

With data analytics, organizations are looking to turn raw data into useful, timely, and actionable information. As the DIKW pyramid suggests, the goal is to glean what you need from the data you collect to make the right decisions for your organization.

As you proceed up the pyramid, you can take individual data streams and extract meaningful information in isolation.  However, you can also look to extract information from the intersection between multiple data streams, for added insights. For example, in the case of protecting physical assets, an agency could extract information from a video stream.  However, they could also cross reference that information with physical access requests, say through a badge reader. Now you have meaningful knowledge.

Again, the deciding factor of what information is kept is defined by your mission.  Otherwise, you’re simply collecting random bits of data. Ultimately, this knowledge leads to wisdom, which could make significant changes to your operations—saving money, accomplishing more, achieving your mission more effectively. No longer are you storing data with no purpose.

There are numerous tools available that can help your agency achieve wisdom – Splunk, Oracle, and Hadoop to name a few – and as the market evolves, the options will continue to increase. Unless you can predict the future, you must build your analytics platform on a storage platform that can support your mission. From NetApp's perspective, regardless of the tools you build on, we can support your environment with a flexible infrastructure. Our goal is to get you to wisdom faster.

Never forget what you want to achieve, and keep your eye on the prize. Because if you can move from data to wisdom, no one can call you a data pack rat.

Raj Rana, Senior Manager, Systems Engineering, NetApp U.S. Public Sector