Complex Made Simple

There is such a thing as too much data – Here’s how you can pick and choose

Is there such a thing as too much data? Most certainly.

90% of the data that existed in the world in 2018 was generated within the previous 2 years With such a growing volume of data being geenrated everyday, organizations are faced with a major question How can they sift through all this information, filtering the useful and actionable from the trivial?

In the deluge of data we wade through across the world wide web (quite the antiquated term today, isn’t it?), we come to realize that there has truly come to be too much data in the world.

In fact, in a report by Domo in 2018, they revealed that 90% of the data that existed in the world last year was generated within the previous 2 years. Essentially, we produced 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily at the time. This has surely increased since then. 

Following along these lines, consider also that, according to Statista, we know that about 269 billion emails were sent and received each day in 2017, and that figure is expected to grow to almost 320 billion daily emails in 2021.

As internet and connection speeds improve and technologies like 5G begin to surface, the amount of data we produce daily will only increase. The coming age of the Internet of Things (IoT) will only serve to amplify this further. 

In an interview with Forbes, Sara Spivey, CMO of Bazaarvoice, the provider of consumer-generated content, advertising and personalization solutions, weighed in on this: “Data saturation is everywhere. We’ve often had the belief that more is better; however, that actually isn’t true in the case of data. The rapid rise in our ability to collect data hasn’t been matched by our ability to support, filter and manage the data.”

She continued: “As an example, think about the first problem that people complain about when a city experiences great growth – the roads are too crowded. The infrastructure can’t keep up. Too much data with not enough structure in place to manage the data and not enough meaningful application.”

This brings us to our next dilemma, the quality and actionability of the data collected. How much of the data that ends up in companies’ servers is actually useful and worth utilizing, and how can you sort it out from the sea of banal data?

That’s a tough question. To make matters worse, excess data also means weakened cybersecurity. 

“Quite simply, organizations are drowning in the amount of data they collect. And though it’s counter-intuitive, I submit that for better security, less is more,” Leonid Belkind, Vice President, CTO – Zero Trust, Secure Access Cloud, writes for Symantec in a very insightful article. 

He continued: “Cloud and near-universal mobility are fueling an extreme escalation of real-world processes into digital. The responsibility to secure all this digital data falls to us in the security field. And right now, we are failing because we are making the wrong decisions when it comes to data security.”

He posits that security personnel and organizations “get so caught up in collecting so much data they can’t do anything with it. They just don’t have the budget, people or resources.”

So, what is actionable data for security, he asks?

“Bottom line, IT security was, and to a great extent, still is, networking security,” he reveals. “I submit that the problem we face is that we don’t know what we’re targeting so in response, we collect everything. What we should be preoccupied with is extracting data to collect actionable data.”

In this regard, he gives two action plans: 

1. Security professionals need to build around user identity. The focus needs to be on what the users do with your data.

2. Security professionals also need to take the focus away from collecting data for data’s sake and focus instead on the funnel, not on the pipeline. Extraction is the goal, not collection. Don’t collect network information for security purposes. Focus on the identity of the user and classify your data so that you can monitor and track it in real time – that combination provides a tremendous tool for creating your funnel – and allows for vastly improved data analytics.

With the continuing information technology revolution that continues to take the world by storm, more data is inevitable. It is important to get a handle on your data streams and store before the floodgates open any further.