The dangers of data swamps full of dark data

How a data lake's strength -all that data - can also be their greatest weakness

At the start, your data lake was great: a vast repository full of useful insights.

But over time, the clear water became more murky. Everybody dumped data without a thought for quality or usability. With no clear catalog, searching for real insights was tough. Everyone had the vague feeling that there was a treasure trove under heaps of useless data - if only they could get at it!

So data lakes’ great strength can also be their greatest weakness. As volume and variety grow, you risk a ‘data swamp’ - full of disorganized, low-quality data. On the flipside, there's ‘dark data’: high-value, but unused or even unknown.

Luckily, none of this is inevitable. You can shield your lake from this fate with data governance, setting standards for data quality, security, and compliance - and implicitly enforce their execution - ensuring consistency across the board:

Seems like a lot? For small- to medium-size companies new to data lakes, start with an out-of-the-box solution with built-in functionality - like Databricks and Delta Lake. Once you start to find the limits of these solutions and know your needs, explore building your own custom lake - and then apply these techniques.

Remember: strategies like these need a dedicated team (or person) responsible for data governance. Make sure all this aligns with company objectives: without buy-in from internal stakeholders, the data lake might go underused anyway, making all your work to make data readily available pointless. With everyone on the same page, your data lake can remain a valuable asset for insights - instead of a swamp.