How Unstructured Data Can Drive Product Success - Fuel for AI Product Strategy

Written by
Frederik Bussler
May 13, 2021

Structured data is neat and tidy. It's well organized, well categorized, and well labeled. It's the type of data that makes sense to most people because it's what they're used to being exposed to. It's also what most people are used to working with day-to-day, given the structured analysis tools they have available, like Google Sheets and Excel.

Unstructured data, on the other hand, is messy. It's difficult to organize because it doesn't come in neat little boxes with clearly labeled compartments. But there's a lot of unstructured data out there – more than 95% of all data is unstructured – and it's usually a gold mine for companies that know how to mine it for insights.

In short, the vast majority of data today is unstructured and largely untapped, which leaves valuable insights waiting to be mined.

Gaining Value from Unstructured Data

Breaking down and analyzing unstructured data can be a complicated process for companies, which is one of the reasons why it has largely been ignored by businesses. But at the same time, it can drive massive value in several ways: 

  • It offers a more complete picture of customer sentiment and behaviour
  • It offers more opportunities for customer interaction 
  • It can be used to drive customer success 
  • It can be used to make better decisions 

Unstructured data is data that has not been structured for processing by a computer. Unstructured data can be written, audio, or video in various formats. Unstructured data is often found on social media sites and communication platforms such as YouTube and Twitter, as well as on the Internet in general. 

Unstructured data can be used for various purposes, including understanding a company’s own product strategy, understanding competitors’ strategies, and finding new opportunities in the market.

Let’s dive deeper into common sources of unstructured data, before diving into practical use-cases.

Sources of Unstructured Product Data

Text forms are a common source of unstructured product data. This unstructured data includes emails, customer feedback forms, comments on social media sites like Twitter and Reddit, and even notes taken during customer phone calls and meetings.

Another source of unstructured data is Slack, a business chat app that allows users to send messages to channels or to individual colleagues. If you’re not familiar with Slack, messages can be sent in various formats, including plain text, markdown, or pictures. This makes it a complex source to derive insights from with traditional methods, especially among large enterprise organizations.

YouTube reviews are another unstructured source of data, where many users upload long and detailed product reviews, ready to be tapped for insights. Similarly, voice surveys are an unstructured way to gather information from customers about their experiences with a product or a service. Both YouTube reviews and voice surveys require natural language processing, or NLP algorithms, to be made sense of at scale. Of course, Amazon reviews are another massive source of unstructured data, with well over 100 million reviews available for analysis online.

Another common unstructured data source for large businesses is SAP, a company that provides business software to various industries. SAP HANA supports both structured and unstructured data. In order for customers to use SAP software effectively, they must create their own data structures called databases. Prior to creating structured data, unstructured data includes customer orders, quotations, invoices, and many other types of information.

Unstructured Data Use-Cases for Product Success

Unstructured data can be analyzed to understand what customers want in a product and what they find valuable about it. This can then be used to create new products and features that meet customers’ needs.

In addition, by analyzing competitors’ unstructured data such as product reviews and comments on social media, companies can learn about what their competitors are providing customers and where they are falling short. 

This knowledge can then be used to inform the company’s own strategy when it comes to competing with the competitor's products.

Another powerful use-case is market intelligence to find new opportunities. By analyzing large amounts of unstructured data online about the market and potential customers’ needs, companies can find new opportunities for products and services that meet the needs of these potential customers.     

Summary

Unstructured data is any type of data that does not have specific meanings assigned to it by computers when it is inputted into a computer system. 

Unstructured data from various sources can be analyzed for various purposes including understanding company strategy for new products and features, understanding competitors’ strategy for competing with the company’s products, and finding opportunities in the market with new potential customers.

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