The Untapped Potential of Unstructured Data

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There’s nothing new about using data to make decisions. But, what is new is the potential that new data sources hold in providing real actionable insight. Unstructured data such as social media activity, online community participation, or live chat records, hold a wealth of insight about a company’s customers, products, processes, and more. The next big thing in Big Data is the ability to integrate unstructured with traditional structured data to get a clear picture of your business. Bill Duffy, senior partner of customer strategy services at TTEC, says companies must step back and first harness unstructured data before taking the integration leap.

“The whole area of Big Data is relatively new,” said Bill Duffy, senior partner of customer strategy services at TTEC. “For the most part, what we see with client organizations is that they have a lot of understanding of what the value or the power of their structured data is because they’ve been using structured data for a long time –15 or 20 years in the CRM era. Now we’re in an era where unstructured data is available. What we’re really seeing is not a lot of understanding of the potential of that unstructured data.

We’re going through a phase right now where most client organizations are just starting to apply different kinds of analytics technologies – text and speech analytics, for instance – to try and understand – whether in a chat room, online community, or email screen -- what is this data able to tell us, and what power does it have to add value to the way we’re serving customers? Maybe it adds some predictive power to the other analytics we’ve developed.

So a lot of what we see right now are the foundational kinds of things around unstructured data, before [companies] really start to integrate that structured and unstructured data, or what we think will be the next big phase in terms of business impact. It’s walk-before-you-run time with Big Data. We tend to coach our clients to invest some time in quantifying the value of this unstructured data. It’s going to take you some time before you get to the really fun stuff.”