JUN 29, 2012 8:51am ET

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How to Mine Unstructured Data

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Develop/acquire algorithms. There are several kinds of approaches to process unstructured data. Companies can use heuristics, as well as machine learning techniques, to process data. For text mining, natural language processing, combined with neural networks, allows companies to capture the sentiment of social media feeds. Support vector machines allow classification of graphics that enable companies to identify whether visitors are customers or store associates. Techniques, like Bayesian Networks, can help discover patterns across multiple dimensions, allowing organizations to learn by mining existing data. There are several algorithms that are freely available through open source communities. However, it is important to note that you will almost never get it right the first time. Companies should also invest in good visualization techniques. Given the volume of data, visualization is a key factor in ensuring  better consumption of insight from the data; often, visualization becomes as important as the analysis.

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