Published: 18 December 2019

Reading time: About 3 minutes

Spreadsheets are an essential part of any financial business, communicating with customers via email is a daily occurrence and, due to regulation, all calls with customers are recorded. 

With masses of data being created today in financial services, it’s no surprise that the majority of information that organisations store is what is considered “unstructured”. 

Unstructured data is information which does not conform to a pre-defined data model, and as a result, is not easily searchable in comparison to databases which store data in organised rows and columns. 

It’s the raw information which is spread across the business, on employee devices, on fileshares, in data lakesand in formats such as Word documents, presentations, audio and video.  

It is, for this reason, unstructured data is difficult to search, analyse, manage and govern.  

And yet, it’s estimated a massive 80% of an organisation’s data can be unstructured. Think about what that information could contain that the organisation is unaware of. 

It could be hidden risksfor example, things like customer names, addresses, phone numbers– the information that companies shouldn’t be holding due to GDPR. A good example is the personal information which exists in recorded conversations when customers identify themselves. 

Or it could be data for which the retention policy has not been enacted, so information which should have been deleted a long time ago continues to reside with the data estate because there’s no procedure to manage that properly.  

But it’s not all negative– and that’s important. Unstructured data doesn’t just contain risks. At AI we like to talk about the hidden or untapped value within this information too. 

Think about the significance which could be gleaned from this data; the patterns and trends that could be exposed through technologies such as machine learningprocessing and learning at a scale beyond that of the human mind. 

In doing so, banks and insurance companies can improve how they service customers through analysis of customer sentiment and more targeted, personalised campaigns. When data is processed, organised, structured or presented in a given context so as to make it useful, it is called information. 

And, of course, it also allows for innovation in a highly competitive financial market. Looking deep into unstructured data means you can look for opportunities such as gaps in the market for new products and services.  

Unstructured data may seem like a minefield for organisations but gaining control and leveraging this offers customer and business insights that structured data just does not reveal alone 

Why just focus on the 20%? 

For more information on the benefits of analysing unstructured information, sign up for our webinar “Shining a light on Unstructured Data” between 10-11am on 16 January 2020 using the form below.