Loading...
You are here:  Home  >  Data Education  >  Big Data News, Articles, & Education  >  Big Data Blogs  >  Current Article

Tackling the Challenge of Transforming Unstructured Data into Actionable Intelligence

By   /  May 21, 2018  /  No Comments

unstructured dataClick to learn more about author Ibrahim Surani.

A lot has been said about the enormous value that businesses can derive from their information assets. However, when it comes to weighing the benefits and challenges associated with leveraging big data, it is easy to overlook a key underlying issue: More than 80% of all data collected by businesses does not reside in a standard relational database. Instead, it is trapped in unstructured documents, social media posts, machine logs, etc.

Unstructured data presents both an opportunity and a challenge to businesses. Extracting information from PDF and scanned documents, converting unstructured information into a machine readable format, combining structured and unstructured data, and ensuring data quality are a few roadblocks businesses face when it comes to making sense of unstructured data. On the other hand, the solution to identifying unpredictable, and seemingly irrational, customer behaviors and forecasting market dynamics lies in analyzing unstructured data.

Driving Business Value from Unstructured Data

Mining insights from unstructured data is not just about extracting information and integrating it with relational databases. Instead, having a vital use case and creating a strategy for integrating unstructured and structured data sources is imperative to leverage data as a key strategic asset.

Here is a step-by-step process of how businesses can transform unwieldy information into a business opportunity:

1.     Identifying a Use Case

Identifying the problem you are trying to solve is the first step of any successful data-driven initiative. This might be identifying the root cause of decreasing employee productivity or optimizing the sales process. Instead of mining information from terabytes of emails, call records, and documents, identify the information exchanges that are likely to contain key data about the sales process or employees’ performance.

2.     Mining Value from Unstructured Data

Just having access to relevant unstructured data is not enough. Enterprises must have the ability to extract data trapped within emails, customer calls, scanned documents, spreadsheets, and other types of unstructured sources. To achieve this, businesses need a data extraction tool with optical character recognition (OCR) and report mining capabilities that can automatically identify and extract meaningful information for faster decision-making.

3.     Using Structured and Unstructured Data in Unison

It is possible to make sense of unstructured data and draw conclusions only when it is integrated with structured data sources. For example, to gain insight into the sales process, invoices, purchase orders, and other operational documents need to be tied to product, customer, and supplier data.

There are certainly tools that provide efficient report mining, text parsing, and OCR capabilities, the challenge, however, remains in integrating unstructured data with existing information systems.

To get their head around unstructured data and use it to validate assumptions and support decision-making, businesses need a tool that can improve and automate their ability to extract unstructured data, as well as integrate it with databases, enterprise applications, and visualization tools. Finding an ideal data extraction solution may require some time and effort, but it will allow businesses to consolidate structured and unstructured data and give it a clear purpose beyond marketing and IT, for a more customer-focused approach across the organization.

 

Image Credit: Astera Software

About the author

Ibrahim Surani is an accomplished IT executive with over 20 years’ experience in the data integration industry. With a mission to offer a suite of feature-rich yet user-friendly data integration, warehousing, and EDI solutions, Ibrahim founded Astera Software in 1995. The company has experienced accelerated growth over the last two decades, and today, it offers data integration solutions and services to several Fortune 500 companies, including Wells Fargo, Novartis, HP, Xerox, and others. Follow Ibrahim and Astera Software at: Ibrahim LinkedIn, Astera LinkedIn, Astera Twitter, Astera Facebook, Astera Google+

You might also like...

Connecting SQL and NoSQL into One Platform

Read More →
We use technologies such as cookies to understand how you use our site and to provide a better user experience. This includes personalizing content, using analytics and improving site operations. We may share your information about your use of our site with third parties in accordance with our Privacy Policy. You can change your cookie settings as described here at any time, but parts of our site may not function correctly without them. By continuing to use our site, you agree that we can save cookies on your device, unless you have disabled cookies.
I Accept