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SCMWhat is unstructured data (and why is it a problem)?

First, a very brief overview of what unstructured data actually is – you may want to skip this bit, if you’re already familiar with the concept.  ‘Unstructured data’ is basically a generic label which describes any corporate data or information that is not contained within a database; for example, textual data generated within email, Word, PowerPoint, instant messaging services, and non-textual data such as images, audio files and video files.

On a corporate level, the problem with unstructured data lies mostly in the sheer volume of the stuff amassing year by year, which poses several problems; because of the lack of structure or management of the data, and the enormous amount of it, information isn’t always easy to locate when it’s needed.  This can create problems at both an informational and a legal level, as well as being overly expensive in terms of storage and retainment of data.  This is why content management systems, such as Alfresco, are now ubiquitous; they allow companies to store, manage and find their content in a controlled environment.

The second wave of unstructured data

Now, with the advent of social media, a second wave of unstructured data is being ushered in – and such is the nature of social content that things are in danger of getting out of hand very quickly, unless organisations take precautions.

From a marketing perspective, companies are moving more and more from a push environment (where consumer choice is dictated by the company), to a pull environment (where consumer choice is dictated by the consumers themselves).  Engaging with social media has many advantages for organisations and businesses: discovering what people are saying about you on a daily basis; keeping people up to date with your news and creating word of mouth buzz; managing any negative backlash towards your organisation as quickly as possible and limiting damage; and engaging with current and potential clients and building up relationships, trust and brand loyalty (to read about this in more detail, take a look at my previous blog on why companies should be using social media).

But as well as its advantages, social media brings with it many new challenges; in particular, how to keep full control of your data once it has been released into the social sphere.  Keeping up with multiple social media accounts across a variety of platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Youtube, etc – can be a time-consuming and laborious process, requiring many different apps, clients and processes.  And if you have more than one person who uploads content to these sites, things quickly become even more complex. Not only that but you’ve got (or will be getting) a growing mountain of external comments and re-tweets. How is that monitored and managed and maintained?

It’s easy to see how this can lead to a very undesirable place – one where it’s difficult for you to maintain control or awareness of what data, information and content you’ve put out across the internet, who put it there, when they put it there and what exactly happened to it.  Not only does this leave you with a situation that’s virtually unmanageable, with potentially useful information not easily accessible, it can also leave you open to legal issues if information cannot be located in the event of a compliance audit or lawsuit.

It is this dispersion of content into ever-more nebulous forms, caused by social media and social networking sites, which is creating a second wave of unstructured data – a wave of such potential magnitude that it could leave the previous looking like little more than a ripple on a pond.

Ixxus Social Content Platform

That’s why here at Ixxus we’ve created the Ixxus Social Content Platform; a ground-breaking central repository for social content that integrates seamlessly into Alfresco Share.  This means you can store all of your social content (for Twitter, Facebook, Youtube etc) in the same place as your existing Alfresco Share content, getting rid of awkward information silos and ensuring that you can easily track and manage your posts, as well as giving a streamlined and efficient way of publishing and managing your social content.  Having both your internal content and your social content in one place also means you can easily search across ALL your information.

The beauty of the Ixxus Social Content Platform is that, not only can you publish content across social networking sites, you can also pull in user comments and feedback – allowing you to monitor what people are saying about your brand and respond accordingly.  The Social Content Platform includes powerful tools which enable you to keep on top of and analyse user feedback, letting you prioritise and focus your marketing strategy in the way that’s best for you.  You can also decide when to schedule posts, giving you an even greater level of control over all of your social content.

Accessible via a new ‘Social’ tab incorporated into Alfresco Share, the Ixxus Social Content Problem is an innovative, efficient and cost-effective way to keep in touch with your users and clients across a range of social networking platforms.

About the author

Natalie Guest

Natalie Guest is a Digital Marketing & Social Media Executive at Ixxus, and a self-confessed Twitter-addict. With a background in mobile tech blogging, she has had articles published in The Times and Skeptic Magazine.

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