The management of unstructured data is recognized as one of the major unsolved problems in the information technology (IT) industry, the main reason being that the tools and techniques that have proved so successful transforming structured data into business intelligence and actionable information simply don't work when it comes to unstructured data. New approaches are necessary. This article introduces a series of topics that will look at the emerging solutions for treating unstructured data and some of the business opportunities that this creates. Future articles will cover new search techniques and how search is being integrated with leading Web applications such as e-commerce and self service, classification and discovery systems and the new breed of content intelligence applications that turn unstructured data into valuable business intelligence.

It is well known that one result of the Internet's rapid growth has been a huge increase in the amount of information generated and shared by organizations in almost every industry and sector. Less well known, however, is the degree to which this information explosion has consumed huge amounts of expensive and valuable resources, both human and technical. These demands, in turn, have created an equally huge, but largely unmet, need for tools that can be used to manage what we call unstructured data.

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