Looking for a needle in a haystack of garbage: The challenge of mining unstructured data

The exponential growth of data over the past decade offers enterprises unprecedented opportunities to extract business value from multiple sources of information.

Unfortunately, much of that data is in a state of unstructured disarray. Social media comments, email, text messages, calendar entries, discussion threads: While these and other repositories of unstructured data may contain a “potential wealth of information,” as ZL Technologies CEO Kon Leong writes in Datanami, “firms are failing to extract meaningful insight despite the potential wealth of information contained within.”

For enterprises, managing and leveraging data becomes increasingly difficult when the data lacks order, raising legitimate questions about return on investment and — more critically — the viability of making business decisions based on that data.

The way to gain control of unstructured information and move toward finding real business value within is through data governance, which Leong calls “the necessary foundation of all successful data analysis.”

If you’re wondering exactly what data governance means, The Data Governance Institute can tell you!

“Data Governance is a system of decision rights and accountabilities for information-related processes, executed according to agreed-upon models which describe who can take what actions with what information, and when, under what circumstances, using what methods.”

In other words, data governance creates a framework within which data should be properly handled so that it retains its potential value. Data governance involves technology tools, yes, but it also must include policies, procedures and standards for cleaning, storing and securing data. The Data Governance Institute offers enterprises a number of helpful resources for understanding the various components and requirements of data governance.

Enterprises that do an effective job of data governance ensure their data is providing clean fuel for powering business strategies and decisions. Those organizations which fail to effectively govern their data essentially are pouring sand in their decision-making gas tank. Which won’t get them very far.

How good (or bad) is your enterprise at data governance?

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