Data can be defined as the characters, quantities or symbols that aid the operations performed by a computer. Data can be stored and shared in the form of electrical signals that are recorded on a range of devices. This can include optical, magnetic, or mechanical recording devices.
Well, that’s the textbook definition of data. To put it in simpler terms, data is information that is produced and created via multiple sources. For instance, your social media profile, with all the information and activity in there, serves as a major source of data.
Now, that brings us to big data. Big data, as the name indicates, is a term that is used to refer to the copious amounts of data being generated today. We live in the information age where people and businesses are connected via the internet and intelligent devices. Needless to say, the amount of data we generate today is massive compared to, let’s say, a decade or so ago. The amount of data we generate will continue to grow as we become more and more connected via advanced technologies.
A lot of this data can prove to be very valuable to a business. It allows them to understand consumer behaviour and a whole lot of other topics. That’s why data analytics is a big deal among businesses. However, in order to analyse big data, we need first to organise it efficiently. That’s where the classification of data comes in.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the 3 main data classifications.
Data that can be stored, accessed and processed in a fixed format is known as structured data. This data is already stored within a database in an organized manner. Around 20% of all data generated is structured data and is often used for programming and computer operations.
Now, structured data can be generated by humans and machines. Machines generate data via weblogs, sensors, and financial systems. This includes most of the computerised devices on the planet, such as GPS, medical devices, mobile devices, etc. Human-generated structured data is data that a person inputs into a system. For instance, a decision made by a player in a game is structured human-generated data.
Around 80% of all data generated is unstructured. This kind of data is not stored in a specific format. As for analysis, it can only be done manually. But, like structured data, unstructured data can also be human or machine-generated. Machine-generated unstructured data would include scientific data, radar data, and satellite images, etc which need further analysis to derive insights.
Human-generated unstructured data is made up of all the data we find on social media, websites, mobile apps, etc. For instance, the text messages we send each other are forms of unstructured data.
Semi-structured data is a combination of both, structured and unstructured, data. Though it isn’t organized, it typically contains tags or other vital bits of information that classify the individual elements within the data.
If you are struggling with making sense of your data, contact us today and we can guide you towards the best big data analytics software for your company!