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Structured Data – What it is and how it Differs from Unstructured Data

By June 15, 2023October 15th, 2023No Comments
structured data vs. unstructured data

We are generating mind-boggling amounts of information. We measure data in zettabytes, with approximately 94 zettabytes produced globally last year alone. But not all data is created equal, and grasping the distinctions between different data types can be a game-changer for businesses seeking insights and innovations. Understanding the different types of data can help us to manage it effectively and focus on the data that holds the best insights for innovation.

In the realm of market research, two key types of data stand out: structured and unstructured. Surprisingly, only 20% of data is structured, while the rest exists in raw, unorganized forms. Recognizing this difference is essential in unlocking insights and gaining valuable knowledge from data. By effectively leveraging both structured and unstructured data, businesses can effectively produce insights to make informed decisions and drive innovation to shape their future success.

What is Structured Data?

Structured data is information with predefined formats, ensuring consistency when interpreted by computers. Picture a well-organized spreadsheet containing names, addresses, and phone numbers of family members, where each row represents a person, and each column holds specific information based on the column header. The structured nature of this data enables seamless data analysis in research and is particularly valuable in research, providing reliable and consistent insights for effective decision-making.

In the survey world, data looks like a pick-one question with predefined answers to pick from.  For instance, respondents may select their state of residence from a list when asked about their location. This structured format facilitates easier data aggregation, changes, and data analysis, providing valuable insights for businesses. However, it is essential to recognize that relying solely on structured data can present limitations, especially in dynamic and evolving business scenarios. The best innovation comes from knowing your consumers so well that you’re able to tell a story and frame problems with solutions.

What is Unstructured Data?

As the name suggests, unstructured data is any form of data that is stored in a native form instead of standardized spreadsheets or predefined models. It’s raw. Often, this data contains more text than figures or numbers, making it difficult to standardize across multiple sources.

Let’s revisit our example survey; when inquiring about customers’ recent experiences with online product purchases, for example, such valuable feedback falls under the realm of unstructured data. Unstructured data goes beyond the boundaries of mere text, embracing diverse formats like captivating video recordings, audio files, captivating photos, and more. This multifaceted data landscape presents boundless opportunities for businesses to delve into the depths of consumer sentiments, preferences, and behaviors. This deeper comprehension leads to more informed decisions and innovative solutions, propelling their success in the ever-evolving realm of data analysis in research.

It’s no wonder unstructured data makes up 80% of the world’s data.

Unstructured data can be useful for businesses and can help craft a great story to help make an informed business decision, but only if it is properly leveraged. It’s much easier for people to take unstructured data out of content and for businesses to do a poor job managing it.

What Exactly is Semi-Structured Data?

To complicate things, a third type of data has emerged, called semi-structured. A combination of both structured data and unstructured data elements are known as semi-structured data. However, it often falls under the unstructured data umbrella. While some parts of semi-structured data are readable and easy to analyze, those elements do not provide the full value. HTML code is the best example of semi-structured data. While it is organized in a structured way, HTML code contains defined tags and elements that often pose a challenge for the database to make sense of it.

How Winning Businesses Access Their Data

Structured and unstructured data are the dynamic duo for modern businesses. Structured data reveals what customers do, while unstructured data uncovers why they do it. Mastering both efficiently and innovatively sets the best apart from the rest. Embracing this data-driven journey will allow modern, innovative businesses to thrive in today’s competitive landscape.

Data analysis forms the backbone of today’s data-driven landscape, and unlocking the meaning from both structured and unstructured data is paramount for businesses seeking to actualize the full potential of knowledge from data. By harnessing the power of both data types, businesses can stand apart from the competition and pioneer groundbreaking solutions that shape the future. The opportunities presented by structured and unstructured data is the key to success in the ever-changing world of data analysis in research.

Getting More from Less

But how do companies do that when almost 75% of survey data doesn’t see the light of day?  Instead, it remains trapped in disparate systems across siloed departments. So it’s not just the understanding of the data, but the “findability” of it all that is needed to derive meaning and help drive insights for business impact.

Enterprise solutions that deliver a competitive advantage go further than just understanding the difference between types of data. With the right technology, teams can tap into the richness of existing data with ease and incorporate the key learnings into easily socialized across teams

Discover how top brands are transforming raw information into actionable insights that amplify their brand impact. Instead of letting most of the Our comprehensive guide will provide you with a roadmap, shedding light on the challenges of accessing data across organizations, detailing the crucial steps – Find, Mine, Refine – to effectively utilize first-party data, and unveiling the immense potential of leveraging AI to manage the bulk of this intricate process. Most significantly, recognize the undeniable value of adopting an ROI-driven approach. Don’t let the data revolution leave you behind. Get started with monetizing and democratizing your data today!

Instead of letting your existing data go to waste, find out how winning brands are finding, mining and refining the data they already have.


Download this important guide today!