Business Intelligence - Semi-structured or Unstructured Data

Semi-structured or Unstructured Data

Businesses create a huge amount of valuable information in the form of e-mails, memos, notes from call-centers, news, user groups, chats, reports, web-pages, presentations, image-files, video-files, and marketing material and news. According to Merrill Lynch, more than 85% of all business information exists in these forms. These information types are called either semi-structured or unstructured data. However, organizations often only use these documents once.

The management of semi-structured data is recognized as a major unsolved problem in the information technology industry. According to projections from Gartner (2003), white collar workers spend anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of their time searching, finding and assessing unstructured data. BI uses both structured and unstructured data, but the former is easy to search, and the latter contains a large quantity of the information needed for analysis and decision making. Because of the difficulty of properly searching, finding and assessing unstructured or semi-structured data, organizations may not draw upon these vast reservoirs of information, which could influence a particular decision, task or project. This can ultimately lead to poorly informed decision making.

Therefore, when designing a business intelligence/DW-solution, the specific problems associated with semi-structured and unstructured data must be accommodated for as well as those for the structured data.

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