Companies are collecting more and more data to learn more about their customers and make better business decisions. But these huge amounts of data, which we often call "big data," come in many different formats and types, which makes it hard for businesses to manage and use them well. This is where business dashboard software comes in handy.
Most of us think of spreadsheets with names and numbers in a database when we think of data. This is called "structured data." But only 20% of data is considered structured, and that number keeps decreasing. Most companies now try to get valuable information from unstructured data, which is harder to normalize, store and analyze.
An excellent place to start learning about importance of data is to know the difference between structured and unstructured data. Here's what you should know about data that is structured and data that is not and how Business Intelligence software makes use of them.
What's structured data?
Structured data is quantitative data that is set up so a database can easily read and understand. Because it fits into a predefined data model, it is easy to analyze. In fact, traditional structured data is often made by a machine to fit into a format like a table.
Structured data is often in the form of Excel CSV files or SQL databases containing information like financial transactions, phone numbers, or inventory. Since rows and columns are named, it's easy to combine data from different sources into relational databases and use analysis to learn more.
Many businesses already know how to use structured data to make business decisions because financial and transactional data is often normalized and organized. Once data has been cleaned up and made consistently, it can be used to make models and do evaluations. But businesses can't grow if they only use structured data.
This is especially true now that Business Intelligence software companies offer Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) features as part of BI software. If business leaders only look at structured data, they may only get a part of the story that their data could tell.
Also, find out more about the future of BI and AI read: The Future: No-Code Business Intelligence Platform & AI
What Does Unstructured Data Mean?
A large amount of business data is considered unstructured. Unstructured data is any business information that isn't stored in a normalized spreadsheet or a predefined data model.
In general, unstructured data is any qualitative data that is hard to normalize into a spreadsheet and search through. Usually, there is more text in unstructured data than numbers or figures, which makes it harder to standardize. This means that the information in emails, web pages, social media posts, chat logs, and other places is not organized. But unstructured data includes audio and video recordings, photos, scientific data, and more that are not text.
Unstructured data can be beneficial for businesses to make better decisions, but only if it is used in the right way. A lot of the growing amount of unstructured data a company has needs cleansing before analysis. If not, storing this data in data lakes and NoSQL databases can quickly become expensive and put organizations at risk.
Grow’s BI tools offer a means to cleanse raw data in both structured as well as unstructured form. To learn more read Grow Reviews from Verified Users Capterra.
Grow for Structured and Unstructured Data.
Grow's Business Intelligence tool uses native integrations that connect to the most popular platforms, databases, and CRMs to import data seamlessly through APIs that continually import and refresh data. This way, using Grow dashboard your metrics are always up-to-date and accurate when you need to make essential business decisions.