8 Ways to Boost Your Data Strategy with Unstructured Data

4 minute read

Data deluge can be discouraging, but a good data strategy is all about gaining value from all of your data — no matter the format.

Traditionally, data was held in structured databases, but in today’s digital age, organizations are accessing unstructured data from numerous sources and often in large amounts. Sources such as web clickstreams, text messages, social media inputs, text documents, videos and medical imaging. Management of this unstructured big data can be an undertaking, but once reviewed and analyzed properly, it will provide actionable business insights.

The more data accessed and analyzed, the more knowledge about the business will be revealed, providing a clearer picture of how to meet organizational goals and customer expectations. However, making sense of all the unstructured data requires a great deal of planning before attempting to monetize it. When an organization takes the time to understand this data, it will gain insights that can help make better business decisions and transform the way it operates, boosting both its data intelligence and the bottom line.

Here are eight ways to take your unstructured data to the next level:

1. Identify key business challenges and goals

Before doing anything new with the data, begin by targeting existing business issues and determine your goals for addressing those challenges. Analyzing your organization’s data can help you develop actionable business insights and create game-changing business solutions. So, by first outlining what parts of your data strategy need improvement, you can really focus on what can be done to get more value from your data.

2. Keep an open mind

Whether your organization is just beginning the digital transformation journey, or you’re already in progress, it is important to keep an open mind when it comes to the data. Your data strategy, like the technology industry, should continue to evolve as you discover new ways to access and interpret your data.

3. Welcome the digital journey
Every business is unique. There isn’t a “right way” to transform unstructured data into tangible results. Because there is no defined process, it’s important to remember that digital transformation is a journey and not a product you purchase. Successful transformation usually requires changes in philosophy and strategy, but each change should be specific to your organization’s business needs.

4. Accept the unfamiliar

One of the biggest challenges when dealing with unstructured data is knowing what do with all the information. It may be tempting to neglect it, but if you don’t accept and retain unstructured data, you risk losing it and the valuable business insight it often provides. Accept that it make take time to find the right way to evolve your data strategy to incorporate the unfamiliar data; it will be worth the investment.

5. Boost storing functionality

Unstructured data comes in many different formats; thus, it cannot be stored in a traditional database. Newer technologies have been specifically designed for big data. Once deployed, they will allow you to efficiently store and analyze all the new information in your system.

6. Create data compliance and retention policies

Compliance and retention is also essential when it comes to managing unstructured data. Not only do you have incredibly large, often multi-formatted data to mine through, but you also must keep government and compliance regulations in mind. Some data have required retention and disposition periods which must be met, so setting parameters to automatically govern this information will help the organization remain compliant.

7. Maximize search power

Now that you have this large collection of information, devise a strategy to classify what you have so you can put it to work. To act on the business insights the data can provide, develop a strategy that allows you to nimbly search and find data in various formats and across a very large data set.

8. Activate your analytics

Once you establish a process to access, store, and sift through your unstructured data, you need to understand how to use it to improve your business. Learning how to interpret your data and provide supporting analytics will help you develop insights and bring value to the business.

Invest in Your Data

When you collect and analyze your unstructured data, you can maximize your data intelligence, monetize your data, and gain actionable business insights. Unstructured data may seem cumbersome, but the outcome of effectively capturing, storing and analyzing it can enable you to better understand your business.

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