Unstructured data is non-transactional business data, the format of which cannot, or does not, easily conform to a relational database schema.
Unstructured data includes many sources of business information that, until recently, were not mined for business intelligence. These include audio files, video files, emails, and Word documents, among others. In the world of big data, organizations are paying closer attention to the information hidden in their unstructured data and taking action to understand and utilize the contents of that data.
Today, many sources of information are text-based, with semantic context that is not easily processed by data management systems. The content of emails is unstructured, as is social media data, podcasts, security videos, PDF files, text messages, and sales presentations. By some estimates, 70 to 80 percent of all business data today is unstructured.
While the volume of all data is increasing rapidly, unstructured data is increasing the most. For example, social media data can be a huge source of insight into customer trends and satisfaction. Organizations that do not cultivate a competency in understanding their unstructured data will quickly find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.
When a company has control of and visibility into its unstructured data it can: