Structured VS Unstructured Data

By NE Docs | April 13, 2015

Structured VS Unstructured Data

Unorganized information is costly…and for many organizations, a majority of their data is just that – unstructured and unorganized. Before you can properly procure and manage your data, you must first understand the difference between structured and unstructured data.

What is the difference?

At first glance, the answer is as simple as it appears. Structured data is organized…and unstructured data is not.

Structured Data

Structured data, most often originating from text files, is information which can be easily ordered and processed with data mining and/or management tools. Most companies are familiar with structured data, as it currently represents most, if not all of, their current available information. To visualize structured data, think of it as the digital equivalent of a highly organized filing cabinet, in which every record has been labeled, organized, and maximized for retrieval.

Some examples of structured data include:

  • XML files
  • Relational databases
  • Spreadsheets

Unstructured Data

Unstructured Data, on the other hand, is often raw and highly unorganized. This data is difficult to capture, search, and manage; and doing has proven to be an extraordinarily costly process. Unfortunately, most companies are not equipped to make sense of this unorganized collection of data – let alone effectively manage it.

To make matters worse, about 80% of pertinent business data enters an organization in an unstructured form. Unstructured data generally has no identifiable structure, and has led to a mess of data that is considered worthless until identified, organized, and made accessible.

What is considered unstructured data?

There are a number of sources and types of unstructured data, illustrating how important (and difficult) capturing and organizing unstructured data can be.

Some examples of unstructured data include:

  • Emails
  • Social media accounts
  • Video
  • Audio
  • PDF files
  • Word files
  • Images
  • Physical paper (forms, spreadsheets, notes, etc.)

Big data is allowing companies to make more intelligent decisions based on hard facts – an advantage that every organization should be seeking to gain. However, it would appear that there is still an ongoing struggle to identify, capture, and make use of unstructured data. To further compound matters, there is an overwhelming amount of data currently entering companies as physical files – adding to the ever-growing conglomerate of unstructured data.

If you are looking to gain control of your unstructured data – ask us how we can help!

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