From Unstructured to Actionable: 3 Ways to Effectively Manage All Data Types

“Big Data,” a term that didn’t even exist 25 years ago, is now a phrase we have grown accustomed to hearing on a daily basis. It’s a concept that, when understood and applied appropriately, holds seemingly unlimited revenue potential for businesses. And as worldwide data grows at a rate of 40% per year, Big Data is becoming even bigger (Harvard Business Review).

As we digitized our world, we built databases to manage data in a structured manner. There was a time when simple spreadsheets and databases created using Excel and Access were sufficient because data fields such as “Last Name” or “Birthplace” had only one corresponding entry. However, with the rise of social graphs and mobile devices, consumer data, in particular, is becoming less relational and more unstructured. In fact, more than 90% of social data is unstructured (Business Insider).

While a consumer has one name and one location, that same consumer can “like” 471 different brands on Facebook, display three occupations on LinkedIn, and purchase five completely unrelated items in the same transaction. This is all data that can be used to tailor online experiences, send more effective marketing messages, and produce relevant product suggestions.

According to a study conducted by KPMG Capital, while 99% of businesses consider data and analytics to be important to their organizations, 85% of executives are struggling to accurately analyze and interpret their existing data. A large part of this struggle can be attributed to storing consumer data in archaic databases. Let’s take a look at how businesses can more effectively capture and manage unstructured data.

Go Schemaless

The most effective way to maintain and access both structured and unstructured data is by utilizing a schemaless database. A schemaless database, one that is built with a dynamic schema, can seamlessly process massive amounts of user data in an optimized way. Having a dynamic schema means that you may store any custom data you have with no constraints on its structure.

Businesses don’t have to know in advance how returned data is going to look, and it doesn’t have to look the same for all objects. Without the need to preconfigure or modify database definitions each time the data structure changes, IT is able to save valuable time and resources.

Focus on Identity

Tying all captured data to a customer identity is absolutely essential, and the key to unlocking untapped revenue opportunities. When paired with an understanding of consumer identity, schemaless databases have the power to not only collect both structured and unstructured data, but also to reconcile them into complete, dynamic user profiles.

Utilizing an end-to-end customer identity management solution with the ability to streamline registration flows is the first step in this process. Offering users the option to authenticate using existing social identities gives you access to permission-based, first-party identity data. Customizable registration forms and flows, complete with progressive profiling for gradually  “getting to know” each user, allow you to ask for specific data points that add value to each user record.

The American Cancer Society, for example, has a fully-customized registration screen that allows users to interact with ACS in a variety of ways. The social registration options reduce barriers to entry, while simultaneously capturing the information necessary to personalize the experience for each registrant.

From Unstructured to Actionable

With complete customer profiles housed in your database, marketers and other decision makers across your business should be able to retrieve both structured and unstructured information in the exact moment they need it. This process should be frictionless, regardless of their technical expertise or familiarity with database infrastructure.

Choose an advanced schemaless database that automatically indexes all types of data, making it available in an organized, easily navigable manner. This enables non-technical business leaders to easily search and segment the database without waiting for technical teams to budget time to build queries or indexes.

For example, if marketing wants to send a targeted email to every male college graduate in your database between the ages of 24 and 45 who is also a fan of The Simpsons on Facebook, that segment can be queried easily and imported into an integrated marketing automation system. Enabling this level of campaign personalization is the key to establishing meaningful and lucrative customer relationships.

It’s evident that as Big Data continues to grow, the businesses that can successfully decipher and use consumer data will be one step ahead of the competition. 56% of executives reported that their companies are experiencing extensive tangible business outcomes from using big data to find new sources of revenue (CIO.com).

To learn more about how organizations are taking advantage of schemaless databases, consumer data, and marketing technology integrations, check out our free Customer Identity Management eBook.

– Reeyaz Hamirani, Corporate Communications Manager
@Reeyaz21

By Tobias Meyer-Grunow