What You Lose When You Leave Your Data Unstructured

It's easy to see how disorganized information can cause chaos or frustration. Individuals and companies today deal with more information inputs than ever before, and at times this abundance of content can be distracting, overwhelming or even trigger anxiety. In response to this growing issue, we're seeing more apps that attempt to solve for information chaos, but nothing that 'does it all' or cuts out of the need for multiple applications. The mess of unstructured data is one issue worth resolving, but there's another side to the information mess that is worth talking about: the opportunities we leave behind when we avoid structuring our data.

For companies in particular, the growth potential that lies within 'structured data' is immense; when context is applied to data, we're afforded insights that would normally never fall on our radar. The upside to creating a system for your company's data spans everything from unique insights about customers, opportunities for cost reduction, trends that indicate growth potential, and warning signs that call for risk mitigation. Companies that continue to be 'data rich' but 'insight poor' will fight an uphill battle as information inputs continue to multiply. Managing the meaning behind data is critical to staying competitive, innovating and growing a loyal customer base. Organizations that understand this pay close attention to their data and are able to innovate more quickly and stay relevant.

If your data is being collected without any deeper applications or secondary purposes, you can begin to make use of it by layering in context and definition. To do this is a notable undertaking, so it helps to begin by prioritizing what you want to know. Ask yourself what would most help your company in the short-term and the long-term and start there. If this means you want to narrow down customer information to pin-point the location where your customer base is strongest, then you'd need to begin tagging your content with a geographical indicator. This is just one example of how one might begin organizing data, and there are countless other ways.

If this task sounds daunting, you're not alone. The hope for anyone who needs to create a sense of structured information will be the adoption of a tool that doesn't require a high level of maintenance or the migration of data from one location (or app) to another. The data mess is upon us and growing -- now it's a matter of finding solutions that can withstand regular adaptation and a high number of inputs. In other words, we need a solution to structured data that's seamless enough so that it doesn't create an entirely new issue itself.