Monday, October 2, 2023

Harnessing the Power of Unstructured Data

By Bineesh Mathew - August 22, 2023 7 Mins Read

Harnessing the Power of Unstructured Data

There are two types of data available to enterprises- structured and unstructured. The type of data structure plays a significant role in supporting the right enterprise decisions.

Understanding the distinctions between various data types is paramount in data-driven technologies and applications. We must be clear that Big Data is usually structured data.

Unstructured data needs to be analyzed to harness its full power. The article discusses how unstructured data can pose challenges and yet be used in a manner that is helpful for companies.

Difference Between Structured and Unstructured data

Structured and unstructured data are two distinct types of information available in digital environments. The difference between unstructured and structured data lies in their organization and format.

Structured data is like a neatly organized table, with each piece of information in its designated column and row.

This data type is well-ordered, with a clear format that makes it easy to search, analyze, and process. It resembles a well-arranged library where every book is labeled with its Title, author, and category.

But in all data collections, some pieces are neat and organized, while others are scattered and messy.

The messy pieces are known as unstructured data—information that doesn’t fit effortlessly into rows and columns like in a spreadsheet.

Unstructured data is more like a messy collection of thoughts scattered across a page. It doesn’t follow a fixed structure and can include text, images, audio, and video files.

But with the right tools, these unstructured puzzle pieces can also be turned into valuable insights that can help companies make smarter decisions. It needs to be fitted into a specific format to make it possible to make sense of it.

Structured data is organized and easily understood, while unstructured data is more chaotic and requires additional effort to extract meaningful insights.

Importance of Unstructured Data in Businesses and its Role in Decision Making

Unstructured data might seem confusing, but it holds a valuable role for businesses. Companies can gather unstructured data from social media, customer reviews, emails, and images, among other sources.

Analyzing photos and videos available in digital formats can reveal valuable insights about visual trends, objects, and even people’s emotions.

Devices like smartphones and IoT gadgets generate vast amounts of unstructured data through sensors. It can be used in various industry applications.

Although not neatly organized, this data contains valuable details about customer opinions, trends, and behaviors. It can thus help companies make informed decisions. It can also provide a deeper understanding of what customers want.

Unstructured data plays a crucial role in decision-making. Each piece of unstructured data contributes a unique perspective that helps complete the bigger picture.

With a good analysis of this unstructured information, businesses can identify emerging trends, customer preferences, and areas for improvement. This information guides decision-makers in crafting strategies, launching products, and enhancing customer experiences. Businesses can use unstructured data to uncover valuable insights that lead to smarter choices.

Challenges of Dealing with Unstructured Data

  • Data Volume: Unstructured data is often massive and increasing due to the digital transformation of enterprises. Managing and storing such vast amounts of information can be daunting.
  • Data Variety: Unstructured data comes in diverse formats, making it harder to process and analyze. Tools like NLP (Natural Language Processing) are used to solve this challenge.
  • Data Complexity: Data consistency is doubtful here since there’s no predefined structure. Cleaning and preprocessing this data is necessary to get meaningful insights.
  • Data Privacy: Privacy concerns arise as we collect and analyze unstructured data. Companies must protect sensitive information, especially in unstructured formats. It is harder to identify and protect in this form. But enterprises still need to comply with data protection regulations.

Tools to Tame Unstructured Data

Unstructured data holds enormous potential, but its untamed nature challenges traditional data analysis methods. However, businesses can undoubtedly work around their lack of format and still derive business value from it.

There are devices and applications to unscramble the information hidden inside unstructured data.  They are designed to make sense of it in the digital world.

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP): This tool helps computers understand human language. NLP can sift through mountains of text and figure out the important stuff. It’s handy for analyzing customer reviews to see if people are happy with a product or service.
  • Text Analytics: Text analytics organizes and categorizes words and phrases from unstructured text, like sorting trays.

It can identify that topics mentioned the most, helping companies figure out what’s trending and what people care about.

  • Image and Video Analysis: Some data comes from pictures and videos. Tools that can understand these visuals are like detectives for images. AI-powered analytics tools like Celleste image analysis tools, or Tableau, can assist in extracting good data from unstructured video heaps.
  • Sentiment Analysis: Businesses can use sentiment analysis to understand customer reactions to text data, helping them improve products and services.

This tool is like having a mood ring for text. It can tell if people use positive, negative, or neutral words. For example, enterprises can use sentiment analysis to understand how people feel about their brand on social media.

Enterprises Unleashing the Power of Unstructured Data

Companies can derive meaningful full information from these data sets using some of these solutions and tools. They can then derive good value even from unstructured data. Here are a few of the activities that can be taken up

  • Customer Experiences Improvement

Companies can understand customers’ likes and dislikes by analyzing unstructured data like customer reviews, social media posts, and emails. This could help them improve products and services, making customers happier.

  • Personalized Marketing

Unstructured data helps companies understand individual preferences better. Businesses can send personalized recommendations and offers that match their interests by analyzing a person’s online behavior and interactions.

  • Fraud Detection

Unstructured data can be like a trail of breadcrumbs left by fraudsters. By using tools to analyze patterns in unstructured data, companies can spot unusual behavior and prevent fraudulent activities.

  • Smarter Hiring

When companies analyze resumes, cover letters, and online profiles using tools, they can find the best job candidates. Unstructured data can reveal skills, experiences, and qualities that might not be captured in traditional job applications.

Also Read: Understanding, Measuring, and Using Unstructured Data

Summing Up

Unstructured data refers to information that needs a clear structure or format. It encompasses diverse data types, such as text, images, videos, audio files, social media posts, etc. Unlike structured data, unstructured data poses unique challenges due to its complexity and variability.

But both structured and unstructured data are essential in today’s world. They complement each other. Structured data helps with tasks that need organized information. On the other hand, unstructured data is excellent for understanding human behavior, like analyzing social media trends or studying customer feedback.

Unstructured data might seem a mystery, but it becomes a treasure trove of insights with the right tools.

Companies are tapping into the power of unstructured data to gain a competitive edge. It can help in everything – from understanding customer feelings to predicting trends and making smarter business choices,

In a world overflowing with information, the ability to turn scattered puzzle pieces into valuable insights is like having a secret decoder to unlock success.

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Bineesh Mathew

Bineesh Mathew is an accomplished senior writer with 10+ years of experience in multiple domains. With a proven track record, he has specialized in writing for business strategies, innovations, the latest technologies, and management topics. Currently, Bineesh is working as a Senior Content Writer with On Dot Media. Bineesh is an English Literature graduate who has mastered the language with excellent editing skills. As a writer, he has contributed exciting writing pieces for various topics such as digital marketing, cybersecurity, and different latest technologies, including supply chain, management, enterprise leadership, and much more.

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