Unstructured and Structured Data: Getting the Most from Your Company’s Information

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Structured and unstructured data are terms heard often since companies began shifting to digital processes and information management. But what do they even mean? How do they relate to your company’s records management? And what role OCR software plays in digital transformation of unstructured data. We’ll break it down for you.


What is unstructured data?

Unstructured data refers to documents or other paperwork that cannot be read by machines. This includes hard copies of documents and other information, as well as electronic documents that are only pictures (e.g., a PDF scan of an invoice, a JPEG of a blueprint, or a scan of an X-ray). Unstructured data can be viewed by humans, but cannot be read by outdated document management software and used in the same way as structured data.


What is structured data?

Structured data is basically what it sounds like: structured. In other words, it is information that can be read — not just by humans, but by software. Structured data can be read by an ECM and specific information such as names, dates, titles, invoice numbers, case numbers, etc., can be extracted and put to work.


Transforming unstructured data into structured data

An ECM uses intelligent character recognition software (ICR software) and optical character recognition software (OCR) software) to convert unstructured data into structured, readable information. Once your unstructured data is transformed into structured data, it can be used in multiple ways. For instance, the information can be used to inform analytics, providing valuable insights that move your business forward. It can also be incorporated into workflows and intelligent forms, streamlining business processes and helping to optimize operations.


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