Every digital interaction creates data. And nearly 80% of this data is unstructured.
Unstructured data is information that hasn’t been organized or formatted in any predefined manner, like social media comments, images, emails, and rich media. Structured data, however, is organized and easily searchable in relational databases or management software
Unstructured data is more challenging to analyze and process than structured data, which is why businesses often cast it to one side. But, cloud computing and AI tools, like MonkeyLearn, are introducing new ways to manage this valuable data.
Read on to learn how to handle unstructured data and glean insights that you may have otherwise missed, and how structuring unstructured data can lead to better decision-making.
Unstructured data management is the process of collecting, storing, organizing, and analyzing data that doesn’t have any predefined structure.
While structured data management can easily be performed using everyday tools like Excel, Google Sheets, and relational databases, unstructured data management, requires more advanced tools, complex rules, and techniques to transform it into quantifiable data.
The goal of unstructured data management is to organize business data, making it accessible, secure, and reliable, so that companies can draw insights to make informed decisions and shape data-driven strategies.
Companies handle large amounts of unstructured data from different sources every day: market data, customer feedback, in-app reviews, social media, and so on. All this data contains valuable information to support decision-making, improve processes and products, reduce costs, and gain a competitive advantage.
Businesses often face a series of challenges that might be holding them back from managing unstructured data:
Having a solid data management strategy to collect, organize, and analyze unstructured data can help overcome the above challenges, and eventually lead to:
In short, knowing how to manage your data effectively can help you extract more value from unstructured data and translate this value into opportunity.
Unstructured data (or qualitative data) is a highly valuable business asset. Product reviews, brand mentions, open-ended survey responses, and general feedback about your support team, all provide valuable customer insights.
But customers’ opinions are not always easy to manage and understand because they’re unstructured.
Manually analyzing unstructured text is time-consuming (hence, expensive), and prone to human error and bias. Plus, it doesn’t scale. As your business grows, along with your data, you’ll need tools that help you cut through the noise and find what's relevant.
So, how can you get started? There are four steps you’ll need to follow to manage unstructured data:
First, you’ll need space to store unstructured data.
Public cloud-based storage is the obvious option because it’s easy for everyone to access, and enables remote collaboration. Plus, it’s scalable and cost-effective: if you need more space, you can always upgrade to a higher tier. Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Google Cloud, and Azure Data Lake Storage are the main cloud storage providers for big data.
The alternative to storing data in the cloud is to invest in on-premise storage hardware, like servers or external drives. Some businesses prefer to store their critical data in-house due to security concerns or data protection regulations. While on-premise storage offers full control over your data, it also involves higher costs like IT support, maintenance, and security infrastructure.
You can also opt for hybrid data storage, which combines on-premise and cloud-based storage.
To decide which storage option is best for your business, you’ll need to consider the type of data that you handle (highly-regulated industries like finance or healthcare may require more security), your budget, and other requirements (for example, a start-up that’s planning to grow quickly may prefer a flexible cloud-based solution).
When storing your data, make sure that it's easy to search and filter, so you can explore datasets using keywords and quickly identify what you need. Adding metadata to files and documents is essential for summarizing content and making it searchable.
If you change your data storage you’ll need to migrate data, which involves careful planning. Plus, you may also need to convert data from one format to another.
Unstructured datasets are very noisy. They often contain spelling mistakes, HTML tags, punctuation marks, hashtags, special characters, and so on.
To improve the quality of your datasets you need to preprocess data, also known as ‘data cleaning’. This step must be completed before performing any kind of text analysis.
Preprocessing data involves a series of techniques, including reducing noise, eliminating irrelevant information (for example, stop words), and slicing data into more manageable pieces of content (like opinion units).
MonkeyLearn hosts an array of tools that you can use to clean your data, such as:
Once you’ve stored, organized, and cleaned unstructured data, the next step is to analyze it. Using AI-powered text analysis tools, like MonkeyLearn Studio, is the most effective way to transform text data into valuable insights.
For example, if you need to manage your Twitter mentions, you could use a sentiment analyzer to analyze sentiments in real time and quickly identify urgent issues.
MonkeyLearn suite of no-code tools is perfect for text analysis beginners. You can easily train models in a user-friendly interface using your own unstrcutured data and connect them to your apps through the API and available integrations. Or you can use pre-trained models and start gaining insights from your data right away.
Compelling data visualizations help summarize unstructured data. Through charts, reports, or interactive dashboards, you can transform boring spreadsheets into clear and actionable information to share with your teammates.
MonkeyLearn Studio provides an all-in-one solution that allows you to analyze your data with machine learning and create customized data visualizations that help you dig deeper into your data.
Unstructured data holds valuable insights to help your business grow. And with the right set of tools, you can easily manage this data automatically.
While you’ll need to invest time setting up data storage, routing all your data to one place, and creating customized text analysis models, the results will be worth it.
Once your unstructured data management system is set up, you’ll start to see results immediately.
To learn more about how to manage your unstructured data,visit MonkeyLearn.
September 28th, 2020