Four Hidden Costs of Unstructured Data

August 24, 2021

7 minute read

Leaders across the globe are striving to transform their companies into agile, compliant, and competitive digital entities. What stands in the way of their successful digital transformations is consistent and reliable access to data. Not just any data; intelligent data.

To make strategic business decisions quickly, executives need insight into their companies to understand better what they are working with. Businesses need data to mitigate risk and meet compliance regulations with agility. To endure inevitable periods of economic disruption with resilience, companies need visibility into supply chain data. To provide a rich customer experience, you guessed it; organizations require information.

However, with 80% of data locked away in Unstructured Data, getting to and leveraging it has proven difficult for many companies. After a long, challenging 2020 and almost three quarters completed of 2021, leaders may feel other business imperatives take precedence over the untangling of unstructured data.
Making sense of complex data may seem like a nice-to-have versus a need-to-have.

Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions effectively decipher unstructured data and yield almost immediate results; there are consequences when waiting to implement them. Read on to learn the four insidious ways you may be costing your company by not making use of unstructured data.

What Exactly is Unstructured Data?

Information that falls neatly into rows and columns that can be sorted, like a spreadsheet, is considered structured data. It can be easily accessed and modified. Images, threaded emails, videos, PDFs, and paper are examples of unstructured data because value within this information is difficult to extract without the correct tools.
(1) Rising Storage Costs (2) Low ROI from Tech Investments and (3) Risk Exposure and (4) Deficient Customer Experience and Low Innovation.

1. Rising Data Storage Costs

Every inch of data needs to be stored either in the cloud or on-premise, whether structured or unstructured. No matter where it is housed, data storage is costly and has become big business.

Data storage units are expected to bring in 42 billion U.S. dollars’ worth of revenue worldwide in 2021.

Many executives don’t realize that a large percentage of the 80% of unstructured data is redundant, obsolete, or trivial (ROT). For some companies, turning a blind eye to and paying for data storage rather than unpacking, cleaning, and eliminating ROT has become the default way to cope with it.

To make matters worse, companies are amassing 30% more data every two years, which means that over half of all data that is being stored offers little to no value and is only continuing to grow. When businesses address their unstructured data issues by implementing tools to remediate against duplicates, legacy, and useless information, they can eventually cut data storage costs in half.

2. Low ROI from Technology Investments

Most companies make significant investments in technology platforms designed to make their businesses run more efficiently. The return on investment for these software solutions depends on the quality of the data fed into them.

Clean, structured data is fuel for data analytics engines that drive real-world business improvements. Take Contract Lifecycle Management systems, Enterprise Content Management repositories, Robotic Process Automation workflows as examples. Without comprehensive visibility into data locked in unstructured data, enterprises funnel low-octane fuel into these software solutions.

Once a company implements a robust unstructured data processing methodology, formerly “dark data” becomes premium fuel for data analytics engines and automated workflows.

With intelligent data, companies will realize the ROI of these systems and processes faster.

3. Risk Exposure

Avoiding risk is certainly a priority shared by all leaders. The best way to skirt it is to get ahead of the regulatory curve and proactively identify and mitigate risk within contracts.
However, historical contracts—often unstructured, unsearchable, and unusable—are a source of pain for enterprises. Companies largely don’t know where their contracts are, or what information they contain, which is a risky proposition when compliance is in question.
Relying on manual efforts to analyze thousands of contracts, including volumes of legacy contracts, in time to meet compliance demands is an expensive and losing strategy. Enterprises need to be able to find all contracts in all repositories, identify what each agreement contains, and identify the risks that need remediation.

4. Poor Customer Experience and Low Innovation

In today’s data-driven world, unstructured data poses a potentially game-changing opportunity. Agile digital competitors will win market share because of their ability to use data to create and deliver superior customer experiences and the products and services they demand. But legacy organizations find it hard to compete because so much of their content is tied up and not consumable by analytics engines or usable in automated workflows.

Enterprises that implement effective Unstructured Data Analysis methods to feed more and better content into their systems are the ones who will see significant competitive advantages.

How to Untangle Unstructured Data

The sooner companies dispel the mystery surrounding the vast volumes of data within their organizations and shine a light on all the opportunities it holds, the better. The threat from savvy competitors and demand from consumers for a richer customer experience means unstructured data needs to be surfaced, managed, and mobilized to deliver maximum value.
Rather than assemble teams of subject matter experts to comb through copious amounts of unstructured data manually, businesses can implement automation and AI to leverage the most relevant and valuable information. A platform with flexible integration will reduce organizational silos and the added burden of incorporating additional tools to fill in the gaps of converting and organizing unstructured data.
Adlib’s Document Transformation Platform includes five essential steps to finding, transforming, and applying unstructured data to accelerate workflows, address risk, and bolster performance.

1. Discover

Valuable information can be buried under hundreds of different file formats and siloed across various systems and departments. Automation makes it possible to discover unstructured data across an enterprise regardless of location or format. Adlib works with over 300 file formats.

2. Convert

Utilize OCR or create PDFs to generate content that can be searched for, read, and analyzed by downstream investments, including Contract Lifecycle Management systems, Robotics Process Automat, Data Lakes, or Insight Engines, to name a few. Converting unstructured data enables companies to extract more significant ROI from these systems.
Enterprises can also isolate high-value content for additional processing by identifying duplicated, trivial, or obsolete information.

3. Enrich

Build trainable AI models that categorize and meta-tag documents to extract critical data faster and more scalable than humans can perform with fewer errors.

4. Review

Classified, metadata-rich content can be analyzed, sorted, and filtered to surface data-driven insights that fuel innovation and intelligent decisions.

5. Empower

Clean, structured data is automatically delivered to empower the people, processes, and technology that rely on it to reduce risk, improve customer experiences, boost brand integrity, meet compliance, and increase profits.


Final Verdict

Unstructured data that is locked in storage is an expensive burden. Companies that don’t leverage complex content impede agility and make it harder to survive in today’s hypercompetitive global economy. The reality is that not transforming dark data into intelligent data is a sure-fire way for enterprises to leave money and opportunity on the table. Organizations that use Adlib’s Document Transformation Platform to discover, enrich, and evolve complex content will experience a whole new level of performance and profitability. Take unstructured data off the back burner once and for all and watch your digital transformation soar.
 Content Intelligence A New Dawn on Digital Transformation


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