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Unstructured data analysis gains importance for businesses

As content management continues to evolve, companies need to invest in automating business processes and tools that analyze structured and unstructured data.

The need for businesses to digitize and automate work processes continues to grow. As content management evolves,...

companies need to evolve along with it.

One aspect leading this transformation is the increase in data sources for companies, and how to extract that unstructured data analysis is a pivotal objective for businesses to conquer.

"Trying to extract actual business data out of unstructured data is the key, and many companies aren't stepping up to do this," said Sandy Kemsley, a business processes management analyst for Column 2 and Toronto-based Kemsley Design Ltd.

The reasons for this, according to Kemsley and other industry analysts, include fears around security, technological errors and legacy systems.

"It's one area of the technology industry that's pretty untapped, as a lot of people are still tied to paper and have to do it a certain way," Kemsley said.

The long-existing process of paper-based forms being sent either through snail mail or electronically before an employee reviews it and reinputs the information into their system is quickly becoming antiquated, as consumers are gravitating more and more toward mobile communication and processes.

"In many cases, a customer may only have a phone or tablet at home," Kemsley said. "It just makes sense to be able to start a claim on a mobile device. If you're looking at damage on your car or whatever the claim may be, you'll want to capture that information on the spot."

And the data coming into companies is becoming less and less traditional text, and more photos, pictures, numbers and other forms that require unstructured data analysis.

According to the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management, 20% of all business content will be authored by machine by 2018, and 70% of all business content will be nontextual, requiring organizations to invest in more analytics tools to draw on analysis for that content.

Trying to extract actual business data out of unstructured data is the key, and many companies aren't stepping up to do this.
Sandy Kemsleybusiness processes management analyst, Column 2

Some of those industry-leading tools, according to Gartner, include Box, DocuWare, Laserfiche and M-Files.

"From the consumer perspective, there's a lot of unstructured data, but the business side has to make sense of the unstructured data," said Raj Thangavelsamy, vice president at New York-based SSA & Company consultancy, which focuses on business and IT reorganizations, cloud usage and strategy. "Business processes are driven by documents, and mobility is a big driver."

The expanding use of cloud-based networks for companies is also contributing to the need for unstructured data analysis.

"Companies see the value of the cloud, and enterprise content management is moving to the cloud, too," Thangavelsamy said. "With that movement, there's a lot of focus on security and management of data on the cloud. Software tools need to add that layer of security that differentiates itself."

The biggest advantage of updating your company's content management processes and investing in unstructured data analysis, beyond company efficiency, is customer service.

"Accelerating the process is a customer experience improvement," Kemsley said. "If you don't have that last mile with the customer down, you'll never get the digital transformation across the customer journey."

Next Steps

Difference between structured and unstructured data

Challenges with unstructured data

Integrating unstructured text into a structured space

Dig Deeper on Content analytics tools