Data. We talk about it alot. That’s because it is the heart and soul of your organization, and any organization really, around the world. Data gives you your business insight, drives your research and development, helps you understand your customers, manage your cash flow, and so much more. New technology is being invented and released on what seems like a daily basis to not only help organizations procure and collect more data, but also to manage it as well. But as this happens, industry analysts such as Gartner tell us there is a huge gap in knowledge about the data organizations deal with. IT departments often spend their money in the wrong areas leaving data vulernable and sometimes messy. Executives don’t understand the complications and problems that arise with data collection and management, and many have neglected to come up with effective data strategies (to help you find out more about data stategies, please read our BLOG here). According to a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, data problems caused an $8 million loss in a single fiscal year. Gartner states:
Many executives find the subject of data management to be boring or unglamorous, and pay
only lip service to the need for the enterprise to focus on it — until they realize how much is really at stake. When a critical project cannot go live due to data quality problems — or when analysis reveals just how much it will cost to overcome institutionalized data quality and consistency problems — the negative impact of neglecting data management tasks becomes clear, and senior executives start to take notice.
This brings us to the topic of unstructured data. Unstructured data often causes the most problems in organizations, because it is harder to track and analyze and is more prone to errors. Structured data is data that is represented by numbers, tables, rows, columns etc. It is often transactional, repeatable, and numeric. This makes it easy to analyze and report on. Unstructured data on the other hand can be textual or nontextual and includes emails, contracts, medical records (textual unstructured data) images, and sounds (nontextual unstructured data).
Tech Target has come up with some informative tables that show where an organization might run into unstructured data, as well as by industry. Take a look:
As the concept of big data grows, as well as the tech space’s awareness of it, many industries and organizations will see their dealings with unstructured data multiply. Here are some of the challenges that come with unstructured data:
- Accessability – Because textual unstructured data comes in a variety of formats, the data is often hard to access
- Terminology – There is no way to come up with a uniform was to decipher text because different organizations, industries, and countries use different terminology
- Language – This is similar to Terminology, translation adds another dimension to analysis.
- Security – Special consideration of security must be taken into account with textual unstructured data, because private information such as medical records and customer information are most vulnerable to breaches.
Despite its challenges, unstructured data gives businesses huge opportunities and benefits that span across an entire organization. Textual unstructured data can help an organization to deliver better customer service, hone it’s target market, manage employees better, recruit more easily, develop more innovative and effective products, and more. Unstructured data is directly tied to better decision making, and organizations that find the strategies and solutions to utilize this data to their benefit will dominate their industry.
Tracking and archiving data helps organizations to better manage their unstructured data. The independent data audit tool Observato tracks and archives any activity and changes to your textual unstructured data, allowing you to recover it far into the future, as well as monitor who is using and altering this data. Find out more below: