A Complete Guide to Structured vs. Unstructured Data

For data analysis, structured data is a better option for many reasons. It’s easier to analyze and interpret by business users, and more tools are available to explore it. It also makes it easier for users to search and investigate the data.

Semi-Structured Data

Semi-structured data is a common form of information containing both structured and unstructured data information. Its organization allows for easy search and is generally stored in relational databases. This data type also has specific qualitative properties that make it easier to process and analyze. This data type is commonly associated with mobile applications, the Internet of Things, and online reviews.

Companies can use semi-structured data to optimize workflows and protocols. For example, a customer service department may compile semi-structured data in emails to understand better how long a particular issue persists. The information can also calculate a company’s average issue resolution time.

Semi-structured data is becoming a crucial component of modern business operations. Businesses are increasingly analyzing this type of data to make better decisions. While structured data is the most common form of data, semi-structured data is also essential in the modern business environment.

Unstructured Data

Unstructured data is data that does not follow a standard model or structure. Because of this, it is not usable by search engines. It is also known as ‘not well-organized data. Because of this, data scientists need to be well-versed in the topic. In addition, they will need specialized tools. Traditional data management tools are not designed for unstructured data.

Unstructured data cannot be organized into rows and columns in databases. Its native format is not defined until it is used. This makes it challenging to analyze and secure. However, with the help of taxonomy, it is possible to identify and categorize different unstructured data types.

There are different storage options for unstructured data. Traditional relational databases cannot handle the massive volume of unstructured data. In addition, data lakes are large repositories that can handle vast volumes of unstructured data. Data lakes can also support centralized authentication and authorization. These features can help with scalability.

Structured Data

When analyzing data, it’s essential to know what type of data you’re dealing with. Structured information is pre-defined in a standard format, while unstructured data is unstructured and has no set format. Structured data is more accessible to search through and easier to understand than unstructured data, which often requires extra effort and care to interpret and understand.

Structured data, also known as relational data, is stored in databases and can be mapped into pre-defined fields. For example, US ZIP codes can be stored as a five-digit string. State abbreviations, on the other hand, are stored as two-character abbreviations. Relational databases primarily comprise structured data and use SQL to process it.

Structured data can be used for many applications. For example, creating custom email campaigns with this data type is more accessible. You can build these campaigns from data stored in a CRM system. A CRM system can store customer information such as invoices, purchase histories, and customer interactions. By structuring this information, you can create targeted emails to target customers.

Analyzing Unstructured Data

Unstructured data isn’t easily analyzed in its native form and is not always easy to understand. It requires several preprocessing steps to remove noise and irrelevant data. It also involves data wrangling and parsing, as well as special tools. Data cleaning helps remove errors and noise from unstructured data, and data parsing allows users to gain actionable insights.

Many companies collect unstructured data across several different sources. The first step in the process is to identify which data sources should be analyzed. Once the source data is identified, an analyst can gather and store relevant information. Many companies use data lakes to help them keep this data.

Unstructured data can be used to supplement and enrich existing structured data. For example, hospital record systems may include MRI scans and x-rays linked to patient records. This helps physicians analyze patients’ conditions better. In a business setting, unstructured data can enrich corporate data and help leaders work smarter.