It should come as no surprise that unstructured data volumes are rapidly increasing as we create more and more of it in our personal and professional lives. IT departments are struggling to store and manage all this data, but they must not get discouraged; it is a valuable resource for businesses.
Analysts, including Gartner and IDC, predict that as much as 80 percent of data is unstructured. This data is a treasure chest chock-full of valuable information and insight, but it is notoriously difficult to manage. Gartner defines unstructured data as “content that does not conform to a specific, pre-defined data model. It tends to be the human-generated and people-oriented content that does not fit neatly into database tables.” This includes PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets, text documents, emails, social media posts, videos, photos and much more. When unstructured data is properly analyzed, it can yield rich information about customers, markets and products.
Steve Kearns, director of product management for DataGravity, presents six reasons why businesses in all industries need to pay attention to unstructured data and the results it can yield them.
Click through for six reasons businesses across all industries need to pay attention to unstructured data to gain valuable intelligence and insight from their companies, products, customers and markets.
This is an astounding statistic, especially when you think of the terabytes of data that businesses are creating each day. The majority of that stored information is unstructured data and it is jam-packed with information that businesses can leverage to learn about their products, customers and markets. Think about the numerous proposals, plans and customer reports that people in an organization create on a daily basis and the insight that can be pulled and re-used from this unstructured data.
Unstructured data has not indicated any type of slow down. In fact, businesses have created more data in the last two years than the previous six decades. We live in a society that is constantly creating data through our rampant use of email, social media, Microsoft Word and many more applications and programs. Every minute of every day, people send more than 200 million emails, 100,000 tweets, and upload 48 hours of video to YouTube.
The analysis of unstructured data, specifically social data created by tweets and Facebook posts, can provide great insights into how a company is perceived by the public. It can also highlight any issues customers are facing in regard to products that employees can respond to and correct, improving customer satisfaction.
The insight gained from unstructured data into consumer behaviors can be applied across every market. For example, retailers can analyze unstructured data to predict customer responses to marketing campaigns, allowing them to better target and sell to consumers. Educational institutions can gain insight into student behaviors by analyzing unstructured data they produce. This enables education professionals to more effectively identify students who require additional assistance, improving students’ well-being. Health care organizations and professionals can analyze unstructured patient data to predict how likely someone is to develop certain diseases.
Unstructured data includes business documents that staff members create. Think about the time employees spend generating proposals, reports, presentations and strategies. That is all time spent creating unstructured data. The creation is not the only time sink, the management and analysis of such data is complicated and time consuming, as it often requires customized data management systems. Organizations need to think about unstructured data now and determine their goals early so that they can reap the benefits of unstructured data effectively.
Companies of all sizes are moving towards unified information access – linking and combining their structured data and their unstructured data to break down information silos and present a cohesive view into a business. For example, if a customer service representative is speaking with a current customer who is encountering issues with a product, she will need access to structured information about the status and history of this customer. She will also need to look at unstructured data, such as email correspondences and past issues he has encountered. By combining the data, employees and businesses save time and make better decisions.