The challenge of big data is basically the same challenge I face with my personal photo collection.
While it is true that the number of photographs I have taken over the past three years amount to more total photographs than I have generated in all previous years combined, the volume itself is not actually that big a challenge for my photo collection. Yes, there are more photos—but I also have larger hard drives.
The real challenge is making sense of all the photos, which basically is the same challenge that businesses face with the massive volumes of data that is now routinely collected by most businesses. Which photos feature my daughter? Which ones were taken on the family vacation? Who is that guy I see in a few of the photos from one of my recent vacations? And do I have all these photos in the same place, or scattered across devices and hard drives?
The big issue for me and businesses is not the volume of information; it is that the digital data is fragmented and uncategorized. It is a question of content intelligence, of making sense of the data.
This premise is borne out but a new study by MindMetre Research. It found that 71 percent of businesses surveyed said the content they need is scattered among different business units and stored in different formats. Further, 56 percent said that the data was not labeled with the necessary metadata necessary to make for quick retrieval and analysis.
According to the study, 85 percent of large organizations are creating more unstructured data than ever, and 89 percent believe insight from this information is essential to gaining a competitive advantage. Yet, only 34 percent identify sheer volume as the major obstacle. The larger issue is making sense of the information.
“Unstructured data can contain enormous amounts of critical information, including commercially valuable insights,” noted Paul Lindsell in a statement, managing director of MindMetre. “Unfortunately, the amount of time being wasted looking for the relevant information amongst all of this unstructured content is a real concern for many organizations.”
What is needed is more automated categorization, something I learned recently when I finally gave up manually adding metadata tags to my photos and turned to software that would intelligently tag (News - Alert) and sort my photos and therein only require oversight on my part.
Such solutions are out there for photos, and they certainly are out there for businesses that understand the problem.
“Many businesses believe that quickly and accurately accessing unstructured information is simply too difficult and expensive,” said Lindsell. “This is not true; a number of automatic categorization solutions are available on the market.”
He added, “The research clearly indicated that, for organizations hoping to boost competitiveness and profitability by making better use of the knowledge and insights they already hold, it is vital to invest in systems that allow them to automatically organize, mark-up and ultimately find unstructured data, so that its value can be harnessed.”
Businesses need to recognize the problem and start adjusting. Volume isn’t the problem, a lack of content intelligence is what most firms need.