Why Companies Must Feed Data Unicorns to Maximize ROI


Your information to benefiting from your knowledge belongings

Not all enterprise knowledge is equal. Some knowledge belongings are unicorns; they’re so extensively used that they account for almost all of knowledge utilization inside a corporation, i.e., knowledge asset recognition follows an influence regulation.

Most organizations waste their price range by spreading it thinly throughout many knowledge belongings. Chief Data Officers (CDOs) will see higher ROI by specializing in a small variety of knowledge belongings. Even a small change to the fitting knowledge belongings will amplify your efforts and allow you to talk worth to the remainder of the group. This high-level framework helps you to determine one of the best candidates to ship a excessive ROI.

Unicorns, cows, donkeys, and microbes — how to discover them

Lacking another metrics, utilization is a superb indicator of worth. Data belongings are used and valued in another way relying on the group and, inside that, the staff. We can classify knowledge belongings primarily based on utilization into 4 classes.

Note: If you don’t have an actual utilization metric, you would use easy t-shirt sizing (XL–XS) to approximate utilization primarily based on customers, queries, bandwidth, and many others.

  • Data Unicorns: A number of knowledge belongings are so extensively used that the highest 10% of knowledge belongings disproportionately contribute to 70% of all knowledge utilization inside the corporate. If you assume utilization is a measure of extracting worth, these choose knowledge belongings contribute to the vast majority of the worth within the group.
  • Cows: Cows are normally knowledge belongings that may be top-used knowledge belongings for some smaller groups within the group, however not extensively used throughout the group. These knowledge can be extremely priceless for particular groups that use the information, however, when put next to unicorns, cows turn into small.
  • Microbes: These are knowledge belongings which can be by no means used, aka darkish knowledge. Many research point out the bulk (60–70%) of enterprise knowledge isn’t used. These are termed ‘microbes’ as they continue to be unseen. Microbes can both be dangerous — consuming assets to retailer and handle — or helpful knowledge that suffers from the ignorance and instruments on the a part of the group. Likely, microbes are from stagnant programs that may have misplaced their relevance.
  • Donkeys: These are simply all the things in between cows and dinosaurs. Donkeys are the information with little or no knowledge use. If you seemed up the utilization metrics of those belongings, donkeys can be usually solely utilized by one or two folks within the group.

How to govern and nourish

Here are some key methods to cope with totally different classes of knowledge belongings.


Because of the quantity of use, any points — resembling knowledge high quality points or privateness non-compliance incidents — can be simply magnified. Given the character of energy legal guidelines, in style knowledge sources get extra in style, therefore nourishing your unicorns will lead to higher ROI.

  • Offer the best stage of redundancy and high quality. Investing in instruments and processes helps to enhance the standard of choices contained in the group.
  • Eliminating private knowledge considerably reduces privateness dangers. So, de-identify your private knowledge to acquire further safety.
  • Find extra methods to distribute and devour the information. Implementing new instruments and pipelines that may visualize, analyze, and share the information higher yields higher ROI.


For the groups who depend on cows, cows can be revered as unicorns. The groups themselves can articulate the connection between the information and enterprise goals. “What is the value of data?” may be answered anecdotally in addition to quantitatively. If the advertising staff is utilizing cows, then they’re may lead to higher conversions. If it’s the operations staff, then cows are tied to predictability or speed-to-market. Let the groups decide and clarify.

  • Find a neighborhood champion for the information who can evangelize contained in the group. Given the conviction of the groups, they’re one of the best folks to convey to others how to use the information extra successfully.
  • Improve discoverability by, for instance, offering higher documentation.
  • Teams have a tendency to create silos and duplicates with out interacting with different groups. If you’ll be able to combine silos and take away duplicates, you’ll remove many conflicting insights.


If customers aren’t repeatedly utilizing a knowledge asset, it’d point out that the information is of low knowledge high quality or worth.

  • Any efforts to construct a dashboard, pipeline, or knowledge marts for donkeys are seemingly low-ROI efforts.
  • Reduce duplicates and encourage groups to transfer to an alternate, if alternate options can be found.
  • New knowledge belongings — not solely infrequently-used knowledge belongings — can be on this class. Companies waste important funding as groups allocate assets anticipating progress. Only a couple of will develop into cows and unicorns. When utilization continues to be sparse, you have to base your funding choices on the newest progress fee.


Microbes might gradual your group down.

  • If your group doesn’t have a authorized requirement to maintain the unused knowledge, you have to do away with the unused knowledge. By eliminating the legacy knowledge, you’ll be able to scale back your prices and considerably scale back your assault floor.
  • If you create knowledge catalogs and drive consciousness throughout the group, priceless components of the unused knowledge might be found and used.

In occasions when companies are struggling to cope with COVID-19, displaying ROI is crucial for any management position, particularly for Chief Data Officers (CDOs). CDOs’ budgets have shrunk, and new investments get higher scrutiny. Thus, CDOs will need to have a laser give attention to essentially the most essential belongings. Not solely producing ROI, but additionally demonstrating ROI is crucial. The above framework will allow you to to prioritize assets and improve ROI.

About the Author

Amar Kanagaraj is the founder and CEO of oneDPO, a PrivacyTech startup that applies AI and ‘privacy by design’ to shield enterprise knowledge from breaches, insider dangers, and privateness violations. He is a profitable serial entrepreneur, obsessed with constructing modern merchandise. Before oneDPO, he was the co-founder of FileCloud, a number one content material collaboration resolution with 3000+ enterprise prospects. Amar has 20+ years of expertise in constructing merchandise, advertising, scaling firms, and main groups. He has an MBA from Carnegie Mellon and MS from Louisiana State University.

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