Organizations will not find their way to become data-driven unless they dive deep into their unique business data journey, discusses Reija Nurmeksela in the 2nd blog in the Data as an enabler series.
In all parts of organizations people send emails, use business applications, create contracts and tons of other documents, order goods and services, pay invoices. They browse websites and use mobile apps and machines that are connected to Internet for sending data to the service providers and manufacturers. And as a result, we create structured, semi-structured and unstructured data. It forms a complex data network, a business data web.
Unlocking the value of unstructured and semi-structured data would give you a holistic insight of your business environment, most importantly about customers and their needs. In addition, recognizing this data would give a great steppingstone to automate your business activities.
Automating the handling of unstructured data and converting parts of it into structured data would reduce routine tasks and at the same time, increase efficiency in business activities making the everyday work life of people even smoother.
Let’s take an example. Interactions with customers and stakeholders are often in unstructured or semi-structured forms. For example, your customer or business partner contacts you with an email or sends you a document. It is common that customer name, document type and other data about the business transaction are copied manually from emails and documents and pasted into business systems.
We can improve digital information supply chains, like above, with a variety of solutions that help us to utilize all forms of data in various business and data domains. Modern automation and content service solutions, data platforms, and recent development in computational linguistics, machine learning and AI provide better technology base to utilize all forms of data in large scale. As a result, traditionally separated categories of structured and unstructured data – latter known better as “content” – are gradually colliding and uniting.
And when data moves, there is also semi-structured data that creates a transfer framework for the data. Thus, there is a need to build organizational competencies that understand the intersection of various forms of data.
At the end of year 2021, there were close to five billion global internet users (source 2) connected to the web of data. The volume of data produced in the world is practically doubling every 18 months. It is estimated that there will be 180 zettabytes of data in 2025 (source 3). In addition, the variety of data is expanding: the sources and users of data are heterogeneous and calling out to focus increasingly on all forms of data.
So, how can your organization become data-driven – an organization where decision-making is based on structured, semi-structured and unstructured data and where the automatic flow between structured, semi-structured and unstructured data is a natural part of everyday work of people and systems?
Here are my three tips:
It is said that data is the world’s most valuable and the same time most vulnerable resource. Structured databases are large collections of your critical data enabling your business. Interests to harm and monetize your data makes them so vulnerable.
Organizations are digitalizing and transforming their document-centric processes and workflows towards AI-supported orchestration and decisioning. IDC predicts that by 2026, 75% of the largest enterprises in the world have completely digitalized their unstructured data processes (source 4).
The emergence of websites, mobile applications and IoT has multiplied the amount of semi-structured data. Nowadays, vast amount of data pipelines extract, transfer, and load data for reporting and real-time data stream.
All data forms have their own special characteristics, which require specific expertise of business and use context as well as technical means and tools. Knowing these characteristics is important also for businesspeople because business not only owns the data, but also the flow of data between different data forms in business activities.
So, the connection between structured, semi-structured and unstructured data always requires cooperation between data, IT and business. It is great to see that many businesspeople are busy building their data literacy skills and better ability to “think data”.
Diving deep into your unique business data journey might still be difficult, particularly as it requires tight cooperation between technology and business-oriented people and a common language over business and data that everybody understands.
If you need advice, business and data consultants can guide you and your organization to become data-driven. In my work, I help customers to identify connections, critical data items and flows between different data forms and various business systems when modernizing data handling in business processes.
If you like to remember one key takeaway about building cohesive base for decision-making from all forms of data, it is this:
“Don’t try to separate data and information and content. They are becoming so integrated and so ingrained in one another. There’s really a lot of overlap, so don’t try too hard to separate out structured and unstructured information because really, it’s all just data.”
- Expert Panel Perspectives
AIIM - The Association for Intelligent Information Management (source 6)
In the following, I will highlight some of the most common business applications and go through key features of various data forms.
Your business is based on technological systems supporting your and your customers´ business activities, such as:
Let´s dive a bit deeper to the data forms that are living inside and between these various data domains, systems, and applications.
In this blog series, me and my colleagues will provide perspectives to understand data as an enabler for digital business. We hope to give something interesting to ponder, helping you to conquer challenges and find new opportunities in data. How to identify what purposeful data for your business is? What capabilities and tools are needed to capitalize on it? How to get data, IT and businesspeople to cooperate? How to derive value from your organization's most valuable, yet too often neglected asset, data?
In the next blog, we will discuss how the good old Enterprise Architecture can speed up data innovations. Stay tuned!
We at Tietoevry Create are experts in breaking information silos and bridging the gap between strategy and implementation. Our services span from business advisory and data architecture design to agile data development and operations ensuring value creation from data.
If you want to get your data in order and say goodbye to data silos, do not hesitate to reach out.
Our team is ready to help!
1: Worldwide Global DataSphere and Global StorageSpehre Structured and Unstructured Data Forecast 2021-2025
2: Number of Internet users worldwide from 2005 to 2021
3: Total data volume worldwide 2010-2025 I Statista
4: IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Data and Content Technologies 2022 Predictions
5: Over 100 Data and Analytics Predictions Through 2025
6: Balancing Records Management and Information Governance: Automation Is the Key Ingredient I AIIM Industry Watch (September 2020)
Reija is experienced in improving data, information and content supply chains in complex environments. She helps her customers to rethink and automate data-intensive business processes and often works as a translator between the business and technology. It is necessary for her to find purposeful solutions to business problems that can be solved with data.