3 Unstructured data misconceptions every IT pro should avoid

Every organization struggles under the weight of unstructured data. It fills up data stores, racking up storage prices, creating management issues and obscuring valuable insights and sensitive data. If you’re not careful, it can accumulate quickly and become too unwieldy – taking minor IT hiccups and turning them into major pain points.

One way to stop this progression is to avoid the common missteps companies tend to make while attempting to manage unstructured data. To do so, you need to familiarize yourself with these misconceptions, and consider how they could negatively impact your organization:

1. It isn’t structured, so it probably isn’t valuable.

Many organizations make the mistake of believing that all valuable data lives in the rows and columns of a database, where visualization and business intelligence tools can help organize, aggregate and analyze. Although those data stores can be neatly condensed, a considerable amount of valuable information tends to exist in the unstructured realm. Documents contain the context that underlies the structured data – such as strategies, notes, research, and presentations – and this information is crucial for IT pros and business users looking to get a handle on the bigger picture of their data.

2. Unstructured data is just our company’s proverbial junk drawer.

Although unstructured information is distributed throughout documents, folders, virtual machines and other sources, it can be organized and managed using metadata. For example, you can group together file types, keywords, access dates and users that interact with the data regularly – authors, owners and editors alike.

Like a snowstorm in New England, unstructured data amasses quickly. One minute, it’s a minor obstacle impeding your daily IT tasks or your commute home from work; the next, it’s a mountain standing in your way. By enacting behavioral guidelines, you can encourage employees to track metadata and other contextual clues to help them quickly classify and apply insights from unstructured data stores. Then, you can avoid that data growing too rapidly in size, or being seen as a repository that lacks value to the rest of the company.

3. Being data-aware isn’t right for our company.

File-analysis tools, such as text analytics and user behavior tracking, can help your team search, navigate, explore and discover your unstructured data. Data-aware solutions take these efforts a step further, adding context and metadata as files are created to help your team leverage the power of your data at the point of storage. When you can search and visualize the information you’re storing and the context surrounding it, your work will be smarter and more efficient, and have a more positive effect on your company’s bottom line.

For small to medium-sized businesses in particular, data-aware solutions offer faster time-to-insight rates and help increase data-driven decision-making. As a result, your team can significantly improve corporate performance, and access insights that can make or break the success of your business.

Learn more about improving efficiency and uncovering insights in unstructured data.

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Jeff Boehm

Jeff Boehm

Jeff Boehm was the vice president of marketing at DataGravity for 2 years. Jeff brought more than 20 years of experience with a rare combination of marketing skills, organizational leadership and technical background to DataGravity, having shaped the BI and search markets working for industry pioneers and disrupters.