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Trends and Outliers

TIBCO Spotfire's Business Intelligence Blog


Data Analysis to Tame the Unstructured Data Beast

One of the most daunting challenges for companies seeking to bolster business decisions by tapping the power of big data with analytics is managing the huge swell of unstructured data including comments on social networks, video files, images and critical documents like call center customer comments.

beast2 Data Analysis to Tame the Unstructured Data BeastThis unstructured data – data that can’t be analyzed in traditional databases – is surging into company networks full of actionable insights for the organizations that can effectively use data analysis to mine it.

For example, 80% of the highest performing companies note that they use a significant amount of unstructured data, compared with 46% of all other companies, according to a recent report from research firm Aberdeen Group.

The rising volume of data is an increasing concern for companies.

In 2011, companies note that that their top business pressures include the rising volume of data and the number of silos where the data is stored, according to Aberdeen. In 2012, 18% more organizations indicate that this tops their lists of data concerns.

Aberdeen defines best-in-class data management companies this way:

  • Best-in-class companies take nine days to integrate data while so-called laggards take 137 days.
  • The highest performing companies have improved the accessibility of their data by 35%. Laggards note a 10% reduction in the same metric.
  • Best-in-class companies say 93% of their data is accurate, while laggards say only 57% of their data is accurate.
  • The highest performing companies deliver actionable information 91% of the time to decision makers, while laggards can only deliver the same 47% of the time.

The number of unique data sources feeding company applications and analytics was 26 in 2011, but this number increases by 19% to 31 sources in 2012, according to Aberdeen.

Moreover, in organizations with over five terabytes of data (a standard Aberdeen benchmark for big data), only 24% indicate that they can manage and use most of their unstructured data, while 21% report being able to use at least some of it.

For those companies that report they are unable to manage their unstructured data, 50% note that this is an area their companies are focusing on improving, while only 6% say that unstructured data isn’t a priority at all.

Garnering insight into big data, which Harvard Business Review defines as “actionable, data-driven findings that create business value,” can be difficult, but brands and companies that are able to develop big insights will be winners, the post notes.

To gain insight from big data, HBR suggests companies take the following steps:

  1. Collect good data from sources including blogs, search, social networks, forums and reviews.
  2. Connect data to specific segments or even individuals to make it actionable.
  3. Manage data effectively. While some data can be stored, other data should be accessed in real-time or only for a limited time.
  4. Analyze data collaboratively. “Using statistics, reporting, and visualization tools, marketers, product managers, and data scientists work together to come up with the key insights that will generate value broadly, for specific segments of customers and, ultimately personalized insights for individual customers,” according to HBR.

Next Steps:

  • Do read the press release to learn how Tibco Spotfire 5.5 dramatically increases the value of existing corporate data assets.
  • Register for the Spotfire 5.5 webcast with Leslie Miller on Wednesday, April 10th at 1 p.m. EDT.
  • Subscribe to our blog to stay up to date on the latest insights and trends in data analysis.

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