Matthew Hardman, Director Data Intelligence, Asia Pacific, Hitachi Vantara
For a company to be successful in the digital age, it needs to be well-versed in its own data and harness it in such a way where it delivers value and intelligent observations to management.
But for most enterprises, who are already busy with growing the business amid tight budgets and deadlines, they hardly have time to map out a successful digital strategy. The burden is placed onto their data ops teams, who, unfortunately, spend the majority of their time discovering and prepping unstructured data.
It is this unstructured data which makes up about 80 percent of all data in the world.
Why? That’s because unstructured data on the cloud is often misaligned. For example, someone may have entered the letter “o” instead of a zero on a spreadsheet, or cut off part of a social security number when making a copy. Mergers and acquisitions can generate duplicate or conflicting sets of data.
Furthermore, new data is coming in at breakneck speed, on top of the mountains of legacy data that have existed prior to going digital.
Such data is confusing and can lead to inaccurate interpretations. Yet, someone needs to do prep and administer the data. If not, the data sits in storage unused – a waste of precious resources and storage space.
Companies then find themselves in a tough spot – sorting all that data out is an excruciating task that takes way too long, but is a necessary mission for companies to embark on.
The solution to understanding and deriving intelligent observations from data boils down to the basics of searching and cataloguing it. It all starts by extracting a humble piece of information called metadata.
What is metadata?
To put it simply, metadata is data about data. It provides a structured way to understand the information that is being presented.
When ingested and aggregated in a content intelligence platform, metadata churns out insights and observations in less than six minutes, as compared with manually processing it, which can take days, weeks to even years. Just as important is enabling your data administrators to manipulate and explore the data easily and quickly, so he or she can delegate more time to higher-level tasks.
For example: you may have tens of thousands of pictures in your smartphone. So how do you sort them out?
A common piece of metadata that can be exposed from data is GPS co-ordinates. You don’t see the co-ordinates on the picture itself, but they are embedded in the file. With that information, applications that understand metadata can expose that and offer incremental features such as the ability to sort your photos by a location. This makes it so much easier to organise all that data into logical groupings, instead of just a mess of images.
Metadata lends itself to important functions within organisations, for them to carry out their operations quickly and effectively in an ultimate goal to serve their customers better. If there is no metadata, we will have an incredible challenge in finding the specific data point they are looking for.
For instance, a medical imaging application has over 10,000 brain scans. If you wanted to group the scans based on location or age, you would have to manually trace back every scan to its original location, or back to the person the scan was taken from.
Understanding metadata means searching for relevant information takes just seconds, compared with the days or months required in manual processing of data. And when it comes to healthcare and medical research, the vast increase in the time taken means all the difference between life and death.
Why content intelligence platforms are so important
Metadata by itself is worthless until it is picked up and the fastest and easiest way to do it is through a content intelligence platform. The platform detects metadata and is the first step to organising unstructured data.
Content intelligence platforms provide an engine which enables data administrators to understand, index and take action on massive amounts of unstructured data in a centralised hub.
Think of it as the Google of unstructured data. Content intelligence is a framework that allows you to search for information by turning data into something extremely searchable.
The key to how content intelligence works is through metadata. Metadata serves as clues to finding the piece of data you need. It is also the key to sorting unstructured data in a way where it makes sense and unlocks value.
Content intelligence doesn’t just sort unstructured data – it also serves as the data administrator’s right hand man, by providing guided data exploration, data recommendations, as well as immediate visibility of all data by opening up access across disparate locations and data types.
It also enables personalisation and protection, by delivering the right data to the right person, to ensure data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
In a time where data is an indispensable asset, organisations must address the challenges of exploring and discovering relevant and factual information across a growing number and variety of data producers. Content intelligence is absolutely integral for organisations to address these challenges in an effort to stay relevant and ahead of the competition.