Gleaning insights from structured and unstructured data

It’s no secret that data is key to garnering the kind of insights that can help you build customer relationships that last. But although most businesses understand the role of customer data within an organisation, they fail to differentiate between structured data and unstructured data. Structured data is information such as spreadsheets, shares, or Facebook ‘likes’ that exist within a searchable file or structure. Unstructured data is information contained across media, such as emails, instant messages, images, or Word documents. It’s important to harness both types of data if you want to gather insights that reap results. Here are three strategies that can help.

  1. Clearly define your business goals and KPIs

    If you’re committed to gathering structured and unstructured data, you need to determine your goals and KPIs:

    • Identify your business problems
    • Establish a clear idea of the insights you hope to gather, and understand what success would look like
    • Know exactly how much value you would gain as an organisation if you acted upon your findings.

    The sheer volume of structured and unstructured data means that it’s critical for you to know precisely what you hope to achieve.

  2. Create a data-driven culture

    To properly capture both unstructured and structured data, consistency is king. With this in mind:

    • Introduce a data dictionary that outlines how staff members can gather and use customer data to solve real-world problems
    • Make sure all employees receive basic analytics training and learn about good data practices
    • Capture as much data as possible, using a consistent process.

    Remember that building a data-driven culture is a long-term commitment.

  3. Invest in adequate resources
    Although it’s essential to gather both unstructured and structured data, you’ll also need to address challenges. For instance, when gathering unstructured data, it’s difficult to interpret emotional cues, such as sarcasm. And it’s even harder to make sense of terabytes of unstructured data without factoring in data quality, provenance, and context or categorising it in a way that makes sense.
    By investing in adequate technology and nominating data champions, businesses can harness both types of data to drive customer loyalty and growth. Gleaning long-term customer insights calls for long-term effort, but the results will be worthwhile.



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