Content Is King-Applying Intelligence to Unstructured Data

On March 23, I have the opportunity to lead a seminar at the info360 conference in Washington, D.C., on the use of business intelligence (BI) applications and technologies to analyze unstructured data. In preparing for this seminar, I came across an article written by Bill Gates back in 1996 entitled “Content is King.” And although the theme of that article is different from the approach of this post, both highlight the importance of various types of content for organizations.

Many organizations are cognizant of the potential value of not only collecting and distributing content, but also analyzing unstructured data—such as plain text in document files or spreadsheets—for their business. The vast increase in information available in the form of structured (database) and unstructured (internal sources [e.g., documents] and external sources [e.g., Web]) data has driven companies to develop tools to assess these large volumes of information in efforts to garner valuable insights. But this by no means is an easy task. Many difficulties lie not only in handling large volumes of data, but also in analyzing data of no apparent structure.

Enterprise Information Management and Content Intelligence
It’s important to be aware that value resides not only in columns and rows of data in traditional relational databases, but also in information stored within a company’s content management system (CMS). Two important approaches exist to obtain substantial meaning and value from these types of data sources. The first, called enterprise information management (EIM) systems, enables an organization to manage its data, no matter the source, from its origin to its destiny, to improve information sharing. The second, called content intelligence, refers to the application of BI techniques to unstructured information contained within a CMS.

Organizations are now using BI solutions to analyze this new data source and garner valuable information. The application of BI elements to content analysis is helping organizations expand their potential for analysis, ease of search for information, and analytics capabilities to more users. Some organizations are applying Web-based structures to content (i.e., semantic technologies) to improve methods for content indexation and search, thus streamlining the collection and storing of information. Other organizations are using technologies, such as text mining and categorization techniques, to uncover emerging patterns among various types of content, enabling them to address a variety of issues, such as those of financial or commercial nature (e.g., fraud detection and customer intelligence).

Social Media and Corporate Information
The advent of social media networks has increased the quantity of data available to companies for analysis. Substantial information can be gathered from the Web and analyzed with sentiment analysis and text mining techniques, helping companies, for example, dig into blogs and other communication channels, and discover valuable insights for the organization. Additionally, social media networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, can be tapped into by applying BI and analytics techniques to data that resides outside an organization to measure trends in market demands and the positions of various types of brands.

Nowadays, information is an asset to any organization, regardless of whether it resides inside or outside the company. “Content is King,” not only because it can be delivered to an organization, directly translating into monetary gains, but also because it can be subjected to analysis, indirectly increasing its value proposition within the organization by improving decision-making processes and streamlining the business.

Finally, the evolution of CMS and BI solutions has created the necessary tools for organizations to tap into a potentially endless and ever-changing source of data. It has therefore empowered end users with the ability to examine and manage all types of data—internal or external, structured or unstructured, social or corporate—and bring value to an organization. In this era of digital communications, organizations will certainly come to realize the value of analyzing data from the “real world.” Join me at the BI summit portion of the info360 conference this coming March and discover how business intelligence can help your organization realize the potential of a new emerging world of data without limits!

I welcome your thoughts—please leave a comment below, and I’ll respond as soon as I can.
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