How to Implement An Unstructured Data Strategy


It’s become widely accepted and frequently quoted that 80% of data in the enterprise is unstructured, but the implications of this large number seem to be overlooked. After all, if businesses truly understood the value and importance of structuring their data, they wouldn’t simply talk about it – they would do it. Having said that, here are some questions that need to be considered and answered: 

What is the future of unstructured data in the enterprise? What penalty will businesses face if they leave data unstructured?

Of this vast amount of unstructured data stored in the enterprise, various text-based formats account for the majority of it. This includes simple text files, word processing files, and e-mails – just to name a few. All of these documents are components of a company’s day-to-day operations. Even if they are unstructured and sitting idle, they cannot simply be dismissed precisely because they have become a company’s most valuable asset: knowledge. Although this knowledge is hidden below the surface, the proper technologies can mine it and extract information so that businesses can use it, enabling them to gain competitive advantages and uncover new sources of revenue.

Perhaps now more than ever before, companies are beginning to leverage this data to gain a competitive advantage. According to Dataversity, 80% of organizations either currently manage or plan to manage their documents in the near future. And just over 60% of organizations are doing this for e-mails. Considering the unstructured data projections for the next few years made by analyst firms, this is a wise decision. 

IBM estimates that unstructured data has a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 64% or more each year. At this rate of growth, you’re looking at 44 zettabytes of data by the year 2020! To put things in perspective, that’s about 48 trillion gigabytes of data. Not surprisingly, 80% of this data will be unstructured. 

Why does unstructured data matter?

Although unstructured data is not in an ideal format, businesses rely on it more than you’d think. In fact, 80% of business is conducted using this data. But as with all things in life, this doesn’t come without a steep price. The IDC estimated that in an average enterprise with roughly 1,000 workers, anywhere from $2.5 million to $3.5 million each year is wasted searching for information that does not exist, not finding information that does indeed exist, or recreating information that cannot be retrieved.

It’s obvious that these companies are lacking any sort of Content Enterprise Management System.But if they are already facing such financial complications now, just imagine how outrageous the numbers will be by 2020 – when, according to Gartner, data volumes will have grown by 800%!

It’s clear that the volumes and varieties of data created will only multiply. If not properly mined and structured, Big Data will continue costing companies money, and this number will only go up. The time to implement the proper Big Data technologies is now – before the quantity of data produced gets out of hand. After all, the purpose of Big Data is to help businesses, not hurt them. So why wait to take advantage of these data mining technologies? The time to implement a data structuring strategy for your ­data is NOW.