Structured Forms of Data More Valuable than Unstructured, say Business Intelligence Data Analysts


Despite the increasing prevalence and untapped potential of unstructured forms of data – IoT, social networks, and external data – BI users still emphasize the importance of internal, business systems, and structured data, according to new survey.

When collecting and analyzing business intelligence (BI) data, analysts most often focus on their organization’s internal data (70%), business systems data (59%), and structured data (58%), according to a new survey by Clutch, a leading B2B research firm.

These traditional data types are popular with analysts because they are structured. This means the information easily can be put into a database and searched and is more accessible than unstructured data, such as Internet of Things (IoT) and social networks data. Nearly 85% of BI data analytics users surveyed say structured data is more important than unstructured data.

“Newer types of data are more difficult to use because that data isn’t in a user-friendly form,” said Dean Abbott, Co-founder and Chief Data Scientist of SmarterHQ. “All the old-school data is in a structured form, so you can put it in the database, apply algorithms, and get value from it much quicker.”

The survey also found that data generated internally by an organization is considered more valuable to analysts. About 65% of respondents rank internal data as more important than data collected outside the company.

Internal data is more popular because of its accessibility. However, a company can benefit from collecting external data as well.

“To understand your consumer, you need external data. It gives your company a 360 view of its business.” said Carl Paluszkiewicz, Director of Customer Value at Denologix.

The Clutch survey also looked at how businesses use BI tools. It found that BI users tend to adopt analytics software to facilitate statistical analysis (63%), data management (62%), and data visualization (42%), which includes developing graphs and charts.

However, organizations’ ability to maximize the value of data is called into question by industry experts. While 70% of BI data users surveyed say they are effective at analyzing and managing their company’s data, industry thought leaders are not so sure.

“Even at SmarterHQ, we aren’t maximizing the value of the data we have,” said Dean Abbott. “There’s so much more we can wring out of our data, but we haven’t gotten to it.”

Clutch recommends that organizations create a comprehensive data strategy and establish clear metrics to track and maximize their data’s value.

The survey identifies three necessary steps when selecting a BI analytics solution:

  1. Define the degree of data analysis you want from the tool
  2. Identify the level of technical expertise available within your organization
  3. Determine whether you want to integrate existing platforms with the BI tool

Clutch’s 2016 BI Data Analytics Survey included 291 respondents who use BI data analytics tools as part of their job. Respondents worked at companies of varying sizes, with 54% representing organizations with more than 500 employees.

The full report can be found at


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