Order from chaos – Turning unstructured data into real BI insights

Entropy, or the tendency for systems to break down into chaos, is one of the universal rules of nature. Left unattended, most any effort or project will unravel. You see it in overgrown gardens, in classrooms when the teacher steps out and especially in organizations.

When an organization is small, important data is collected by a small number of people, within a small and often controlled set of tools and formats. Then, as new people have new ideas, the tools and formats multiply, eventually creating an environment which, if left ungoverned, generates the haystacks where your business-critical needles hide. Thank heavens for your BI solution. Well…

You didn’t invest in a BI solution so that you can hunt down answers in MS Excel tables. But let’s face it: Is the whole organization prepared to toss out their Excel files and less structured data sources? Isn’t some of the juiciest business data also tucked away in PDFs, EDI streams, log files and XBRL sources in addition to the information in your traditional BI platform?

It would be great if all business data were structured and flowed methodically, based on rules that you can predefine. But the real world doesn’t work like that. Even the most concerted efforts to structure business data across all of an enterprise’s systems is like shoveling snow in a storm – there’s always a new layer.

So, do you give up and use the ‘good’ data to make your informed business decisions and leave the ‘bad’ data aside, outside the BI environment? You know that you might not get the full picture by ignoring data that’s been collected by various groups and IT systems. But how can you make it all relevant?

The problem is not about treating some data as usable and some as unusable. It’s more about lacking a way to make it ALL usable. Any BI solution offers ways to pull relevant insights from structured, pre-defined data sets. The trick is to get the right insights. That only happens when real data and not just convenient data are used.

One of the components of a BI 3.0 tool is that it makes it easy to display, drill down into and analyze structure, unstructured and semi-structured data sources and even add new data sources on the fly. You want real, real-time, actionable intelligence. By bringing the most relevant, previously inaccessible sources of data together into a single, graphically clear workspace, your BI solution should be able to shift from static reports to dynamic infographics that tell the real story of your business environment, even as it changes.

As in nature, business data has exceptions. When the Universe first formed, it was a hot, chaotic, expanding cloud of energy that, over time, seemingly worked against natural entropy as it cooled. It developed into a system of basic elements, stars, planets and eventually the self-righting ecosystem that we call home. With the right tools, and the vision to imagine an all-inclusive data solution, you can also turn BI chaos into BI harmony.

Find out more about how dynamic workboards in Panorama Necto make it easy to turn multi-sourced BI chaos into a place where insights are born.

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