Create Business Heroes: How to Defeat the Villain of Unstructured Data

Jul 21, 2021 12:00:00 AM | Gartner Create Business Heroes: How to Defeat the Villain of Unstructured Data

Dealing with unstructured data costs enterprises millions and perhaps billions of dollars in lost productivity and value. Here's how to fix that.

Unstructured data is one of the nastiest villains in enterprise operations. CIOs and their teams have the opportunity to be heroes by defeating this villain (or at least reducing its corrosive power). And enterprise request management (ERM) can be their superpower. 

Wikipedia defines unstructured data as “information that either does not have a pre-defined data model or is not organized in a pre-defined manner.”

The problem is huge. Knowledgeable sources estimate that unstructured data accounts for 80% to 90% of all enterprise data. This includes emails, social media interactions, mobile data and text messages, and other various communications channels available today (chat, instant messages, phone call recordings). Even the broad use of distribution inboxes causes inquiries, questions, and requests for action to be taken. Coordinating all of the different collection points for information to be transferred and exposed across an organization simply isn’t being done today.

The costs are huge as well, though challenging to quantify. Much of the analysis available online focuses on the storage costs of unstructured data, though the real operational costs dwarf this.

Addressing the healthcare industry, for example, Accenture has noted that, “dealing with unstructured data costs healthcare organizations millions and perhaps billions of dollars in lost productivity and value.”

Beyond the costs of inefficiency and compliance challenges, enterprise leaders need to ponder: what is the cost of not knowing what’s going on inside the business? What are you missing? What are the opportunity costs?

ERM (and You!) to the Rescue

A core tenet of ERM is that “service begins at request(sm),” which is to say: a problem can’t be solved until it’s identified, an issue can’t be resolved until it is reported, a question can’t be answered until it is asked.

Within all of that unstructured data inside your organization today—all those emails, IMs, text messages, social media mentions, phone calls—are myriad requests for things, answers, and services. Where do they go? Who resolves the issues or answers the questions? Are the people making the requests satisfied? Is anything falling through the cracks? How would you know?

An ERM portal gives you a single pane of glass to understand the nature of requests within your organization, how work happens, and a better pulse on the flow of work. It doesn’t replace the systems of record you already have in place (ITSM, HR, CRM, etc.)—it complements them, making them work better, together.

It enables any employee, partner, vendor, or customer to have a single point of interaction, where information can be pulled from or pushed to those systems of record as needed.

The End Result

ERM “closes the loop” on service requests, creating an end-to-end process so that nothing gets missed, and giving you complete visibility into your request management performance: what products and services are being asked for, how often, and how long does it take to deliver them.

With visibility into the nature of requests inside of your organization, you can better understand how work happens and how your business operates. You’ll have a better pulse on the flow of work. And you’ll reduce costs: Gartner has noted that dealing more effectively with unstructured data reduces costs both by enabling process automation and improving the digital user experience.

Our next two posts will delve deeper into the benefits of having a single pane of glass over your systems of record, and how ERM helps create a better digital experience.

Unstructured data is a dastardly villain. You can conquer it. You don’t need a cape to be an enterprise hero. Just ERM.

Written By: John Sundberg