Astronomers and physicists have a big problem on their hands: the universe. Cosmology has developed and discarded many models for how the universe works over the years, but our current model has a hole in it. A very dark hole.
Scientists have discovered that there is more matter in the universe than they can see. There just aren’t enough stars, planets, gas and dust to hold galaxies together. Physicists call this missing matter “Dark Matter”, because gravity indicates that something should be there, but it isn’t directly observable.
This is kind of like writing “Here be Dragons” on an old map. The term “Dark Matter” is really nothing more than a pointer to our current levels of ignorance.
I was drawn to look up all this fascinating physics stuff on Wikipedia, because for a while now I’ve been discussing “Dark Matter” as it pertains to enterprise information.
It’s hard to guess exactly how much data is dark in a typical business. You can’t know how much you don’t know, after all. But a recent AIIM study showed that 69% of people believe that less than 50% of their organization’s information is searchable online.
With all the effort being put into implementing collaboration, ECM and social media tools, you’d think someone would worry about the fact that we’re missing more than half the information we need.
And that’s merely the searchable stuff. The picture gets worse if we want to analyze or secure that information. A 2005 AIIM presentation prepared by Doculabs suggests that 80% of organizational information is unstructured and 90% of this remains unmanaged.
So every organization has a huge amount of unstructured, tacit information lying around, beyond the reach of their IT systems. This is the Dark Matter of the enterprise. And while content management vendors spout statistics about how effective information management can improve productivity and effectiveness, the vast majority of the information is still out there somewhere — unsearchable, unfindable and unknown.
We don’t have a searching problem. What we have is a data collection problem.
There’s a vast amount of Dark Matter holding our organizations together. But we know very little about it today.