Why unstructured data is your organization’s best kept secret



Despite all the data hype (how many times have you heard “data is the new oil”?), A shocking number of business leaders are missing out on their biggest data asset. The focus has been on structured data – definite numbers and values ​​- when much of the data we generate is actually unstructured.

Unstructured data is the video, audio and images that make up our daily lives and that explode as the digital economy grows. Gartner estimates that unstructured data accounts for 80-90% of all new business data, and that it grows 3 times faster than structured data.

It sounds surprising, but unstructured data is actually the basis of current progress. The innovations we rely on, from the genomic research needed to develop the COVID-19 vaccine, to the archives of a history museum, to the special effects of your favorite Netflix hit, all come from unstructured data.

Yet organizations do not see the obvious. In a 2019 Deloitte poll, only 18% of organizations said they could take advantage of unstructured data. As a result, 82% of other organizations are still not using their most valuable resource. Unstructured data is always a secret. But for companies that can understand it, unstructured data is a major competitive advantage.

Here’s why unstructured data has been waiting behind the scenes for so long – and how to bring it back to the fore.

Unstructured data is valuable, but it is poorly understood.

If so much of our data is unstructured, why is it so underserved? You’d think unstructured data would get more attention, but since unstructured data doesn’t fit perfectly into the boxes, it takes more time for businesses to figure out how to use it.

We intuitively think of data in rows and columns, and unstructured data just doesn’t work that way. It is generated from video cameras, recording devices, satellites, sensors, genomic data, aerial images, and other IoT-connected technologies. It’s a gold mine of ideas that we need to harness in a different way than we’re used to.

Unstructured data is stored in its native format, which means it does not have a predefined data model or schema and cannot be managed in a traditional relational database. This kind of unorganized data cannot simply be stored in a set of tables using columns and rows, and businesses traditionally struggle to manage, analyze, and leverage their unstructured data in any meaningful way.

Most technologies are not designed to solve this problem, which means companies have to rebuild their architecture, refactor their applications, or use third-party data transfer packages to generate value from their data. It’s no wonder unstructured data gets a bad rap – no one wants to deal with it, because legacy file systems don’t make it easy.

But there is another way.

Organizations can leverage their unstructured data by using it in its native form.

Just because unstructured data doesn’t fit in an Excel sheet doesn’t mean you can’t work with it. You just have to speak your language. Understanding whether your data strategy is designed to work with data and applications in their native form is crucial.

In the cloud age, storing objects tends to be a priority for many businesses, but most data is created and consumed as files. File storage is a format or program for storing and managing data in the form of a file hierarchy, in which files are identifiable in a directory structure (usually displayed as a hierarchical tree). Modern file systems are optimized for the specialized needs of file-based data, enabling massive scalability, optimized performance, and data protection.

Successful businesses store, manage, and build High Performance Computing (HPC) workflows and applications with file data in their native form, leveraging locally mounted file systems and data services that are integrated natively to cloud object stores (like Amazon S3 and Microsoft Azure) – and transform that data into value using analytics, machine learning, and business intelligence.

It’s time to put unstructured data in the spotlight.

Having the ability to handle unstructured data should be an integral part of your business, no matter what type of business you are. Organizations can leverage unstructured data in a more meaningful way to bring impactful results to the world.

Here are just a few of those daily results that are happening in industries fueled by file data right now:

  • Big Entertainment Studios Create Next Blockbuster Cloud Movie
  • Medical researchers use DNA sequencing to prepare for next infectious disease
  • Automakers Use IoT Sensors to Develop Security Features for Self-Driving Cars

Unstructured data doesn’t deserve to be sidelined. With the right attention and technology solutions, your organization can make its little-known data the star of the show and bring your innovations to life.


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