Consumers revolt against dark data
Companies face losing half their customer base if they don’t start getting rid of unnecessary data sitting on their systems or in the cloud, eating up unnecessary energy, new research suggests.
In a survey commissioned by multicloud data management vendor Veritas Technologies, half (49%) of the 13,000 global consumers that it polled said that it was the responsibility of organisations that store their information online to delete it when it was no longer needed.
Consumers said that they were also prepared to vote with their feet if they felt businesses weren’t making efforts to combat data-related pollution.
Nearly half (47%) said they would stop buying from a company if they knew it was wilfully causing environmental damage by failing to control how much unnecessary or unwanted data it is storing.
Worldwide, it is estimated that data centres consume about 3% of the global electric supply and account for about 2% of total greenhouse gas emissions – that’s nearly the same as the airline industry.
In response, almost 60% of respondents said they would like to see more focus from organisations on controlling the negative impact of online data storage on the environment.
This could include firms encouraging their customers to close unused or inactive accounts and guidance on deleting obsolete information they no longer need or want.
Rags Srinivasan, chief sustainability officer at Veritas Technologies, said: “Beyond the costs of storing data, the hidden costs of its environmental impact should be at the top of every business leader’s agenda.”
Separate Veritas research has found that half of the data enterprises store is redundant, obsolete or trivial (ROT) – with another 35% “dark” – with unknown value – which were all stats that 51% of survey respondents said concerned them.
Srinivasan added: “Organisations should not underestimate the environmental impact of poor data management practices, even if they are outsourcing their storage to public cloud providers.
“Many consumers feel passionately about reducing their carbon footprints, but the average organisation is still causing more pollution by storing data they know is not needed than data they believe to be useful – on average, just 15% of data is business critical.”
Internet of Things practitioners are also starting to display growing concern over the amount of obsolete data in storage.
At IOT Solutions World Congress in Barcelona this year Responsible Computing CEO Bill Hoffman, raised awareness of during his keynote speech, while David McKee CEO and CTO of Slingshot Simulations added that the industry used less than 5% of the data it collected. “The other 95% is sitting on hard drives, burning CO2,” he warned.
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