Reading the musings of Rich Northwood about scary data rekindled my fears about the Zombie Data-pocalypse. Especially since today is October 31. Although Halloween gets more hoopla, it’s neither a trick nor a treat to say that in the data management trade, today is a very different kind of harrowing holiday.

How-long-has-it-been-since-you-used-this-data-ween is the annual festival of the dead data that has been stinking up the server room for longer than anyone can remember, but is allowed this one day a year to boot up and transfer itself amongst the living, breathing data the organization actually uses.

With the door to the Otherworld’s Server Room open, these bit and bytes of unused data will revisit the cubicles, offices, Ethernet ports and wi-fi modems that brought them into the organization – sometimes to be used once and forgotten, other times never to be used at all, only to be left trapped in a cyber crypt of creaking hardware with their low moans mistaken as the natural hum of electric currents.

Today, be on the lookout for mysteriously running out of data storage space on your laptop. Or running up huge data usage charges on your smartphone. Or experiencing dreadfully slow data transfer rates on your wireless network. Or seeing spooky shapes in your data visualizations.

Because today is the day all the data you collected without using, all the data you never deleted just in case you might use it someday, all the data you duplicated because disk space is so cheap nowadays . . . today is when all that invisible data (and not just the data in a gorilla costume) dances around you in ghostly echoes of digital ectoplasm as all of your unused data comes back to haunt you.

Today, every weird text or email message you receive, every scary status update you see on Twitter and Facebook, every bizarre blog post you read ( ;-) ) — every one of your unusual data encounters will be a haunting reminder that you need to change your Big Bad Ways in these Big Data Days.

In other words, you need to be hyper-vigilant about your data management. If there’s not a valid business reason for retaining data, then it’s time to release it. It’s time to allow your unused data to rest in peace. Especially since the biggest big data will be all the data you hoard but never use.

Unlike its other holiday, which is mostly about eating candy, today’s data management holiday is about making How long has it been since you used this data? a question asked every day of the year.


About Author

Jim Harris

Blogger-in-Chief at Obsessive-Compulsive Data Quality (OCDQ)

Jim Harris is a recognized data quality thought leader with 25 years of enterprise data management industry experience. Jim is an independent consultant, speaker, and freelance writer. Jim is the Blogger-in-Chief at Obsessive-Compulsive Data Quality, an independent blog offering a vendor-neutral perspective on data quality and its related disciplines, including data governance, master data management, and business intelligence.

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