‘Dark data’ may sound ominous, but it's helping lift bottom lines around the world.

The term refers to the data that companies have stored but have not yet tapped into.

In many cases, within these billions of bytes lie key insights for businesses.

Chief Marketing Officer at Wordpress digital experience platform WP Engine, Mary Ellen Dugan has experienced first-hand the transformative powers of data for a business.

“As a marketer, I look at it as all the data we’re gathering, whether we’re having somebody download content or we’re trying to get a lead,” she told Information Age.

“But I think the true meaning of dark data extends to every division of within a company, and that’s been the big change.”

WP Engine is now powering 60% of all sites built with a Content Management System (CMS) with its WordPress framework.

But it is always looking to gain new insights in order to expand.

Dugan explained that WP Engine now runs a ‘lookalike’ data strategy to grow its customer base.

“We look at existing customers to find other people that could be potential customers,” she said.

“We’re looking for lookalike audiences.”

She also explained that the challenge now is how can companies integrate data from across different departments to form valuable insights.

“I think it’s a team sport,” she said.

“If you think it’s just something that sits in R&D or engineering, or marketing, you’re not going to solve it.

“The best companies are viewing it as a competitive advantage and they’re saying, ‘what is all the data that we have, how is it integrating across all of our systems and how are we collecting it together'.

“Where it falls off the rails is if you just put it in the strategy group or just put it in the marketing group and have them drive it.”

Mary Ellen Dugan. Source: WP Engine

The future of the website

With the rise of mobile in recent years, Dugan and her team at WP Engine have been at the forefront of the evolution of the website.

While some have predicted the death of the website in the near future, Dugan thinks otherwise.

“It’s not the death of the website, it’s the rise of the digital experience – and the website is one part of that within the ecosystem.

“Fifteen or 20 years ago, everybody had a site, it was the company, it could have been more like a brochure and it was really held in the marketing group,” she said.

“Now the owned media alongside the ‘earned’ media and paid media are becoming part of the ecosystem.

“It’s not just the website anymore.”