January 7, 2015

Big Data and ECM: Unlocking Un-Structured Data

IBM and Twitter recently announced a significant deal where, among other things, hundreds of millions of Twitter posts will be fed into Watson for analytical purposes such as deeper competitive understanding. Simultaneously there was a social media post to the effect that these days marketing doesn’t define a company’s brand anymore, a brand is by what its customers tell their friends. This is a variant on the old saw that reality is what the other person thinks.

However, there is a closer, more valuable reality and that is the reality of what interactions your customers have transacted with your company. Customers have indicated their preferences in their purchase histories and other recorded transactions. These have been reported back to them in monthly statements and archived in Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems. When the transactions occurred, tabulations were made, probably focused on financial accounting data. However, many years’ worth of accumulated customer knowledge was archived before the data sets being used to drive today’s analytics tools were defined.

Using the low-hanging fruit analogy, historical tweets are the fruit that has fallen to the ground - not suitable for a retail outlet but with many a juicy bite here and there scattered across the landscape of the orchard. The IBM-Twitter deal makes Watson a large Cider Mill taking in the ground fruit that, having transited from tree to earth perhaps catching the glint of the sun on a shiny ripe skin, would otherwise languish and rot. Watson’s legendary analytics will press the juicy bits of leverage-able information from these millions of collected tweets.

But not everything has to operate at that scale - although it is nice to know it is there when it is needed as Watson is also solving some previously intractable problems in arenas such as Healthcare. Traditionally sources note that 80% of corporate data resides as unstructured data, but that number is going up as high volumes of video and sensor data skew the statistics. To extend the fruit analogy, the next few branches above the low-hanging fruit have a lot of valuable data waiting to be analyzed. This does not require tall ladders when a simpler tool will suffice.

But something has to change. In a recent posting, Holly Muscolino of IDC put her finger on it:

Success in achieving the promise of Big Data is dependent on the efficient access and analysis of all relevant data.

Here at Crawford, we are also interested in the valuable data that is waiting to be accessed and analyzed. First, we wanted to know what the current archiving trends were in our industry, customer communications. In pursuit of the most up-to-date information, we reached out to AIIM, the Global Community of Information Professionals, and commissioned them to do a research study. The mission was to determine the Trends in Customer Communications Archiving. I invite you to read the results of the whitepaper published by AIIM. The information might surprise you. For us here at Crawford, it gave us new insight into how we can help you and your organization add value to your current customer communications archiving processes.

Download the AIIM Customer Communications Archiving Trends Whitepaper