The Hidden Opportunity In Unstructured Data

Just as huge amounts of unstructured data pose a storage challenge to your clients, it also contains a hidden opportunity. 

  • July 23, 2021 | Author: Todd Hyten
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Just as huge amounts of unstructured data pose a storage challenge to your clients, it also contains a hidden opportunity. 

Steering the conversation to the importance of storing unstructured data may help you to offer your clients real value when it comes to data storage and management plans. 
 
In a prior blog, Are Your Clients Ready For The Zettabyte Boom? , we looked at the huge growth in data from unstructured sources. Only a small proportion of an enterprise's data exists in structured databases (10 percent to 20 percent). This is the most mission-critical data for daily operations.
 
However, a huge amount of data exists outside company databases. Unstructured data includes images, video, voice/audio, sensor data, IoT-related data, text (SMS) and real-time social media posts, to name a few. The nature of this data, and its tendency to reside in many silos, makes it hard to find and manage.
 
But unstructured data has real value—and may hold the key to a company’s competitive advantage. A recent article on the MIT Sloan School of Management website, Tapping The Power Of Unstructured Data, gave examples of businesses and industries making good use of unstructured data. 
  • In the mid-2000s, retail businesses were the first to use data from customer emails, store-traffic information and images to market to customers. 
  • A company in the shipping industry takes unstructured data found in shipping manifests, organizes it and resells it to others looking for insights into supply chains.
  • The online bank ING teamed with insurer AXA to sell insurance online. Unstructured data such as social media posts helped define possible insurance customers. 
  • Etihad Airways used advanced analytics to identify preventive maintenance using data from aircraft sensors, operations logs and other unstructured data.
Even if your customer’s enterprise doesn’t have specific plans for what to do with its unstructured data, it can’t make use of it in the future if it’s not organized and stored—and protected. Changing the conversation from a “should-do” (as in, yet another in a list of things they should do with data), to a want-to-do (for competitive advantage) will no doubt help, too. 
 
In the end, unstructured data is another good reason why all data should be part of a solid storage plan.

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