Unstructured data accounts for 90% of all digital information, and this content is locked in a variety of formats, locations and applications made up of separate repositories, according to new research from International Data Corp.

When connected and used properly, unstructured data typically can help companies increase revenue, reduce costs, respond to customer needs more quickly and accurately, or bring products to market faster, IDC said. The study looks at best practices and strategies to unlock the hidden value of information.

"Unlocking information from this content is not a trivial task, and many organizations face roadblocks because of a lack of appropriate technology and processes," Dave Schubmehi, research director of content analytics, discovery, and cognitive systems at IDC, said in a statement. "IDC set out to better understand what leaders in this area are doing better or differently than others; how they are combining new technology, processes, and empowering staff to unlock the hidden value of information."

To understand what organizations were doing to extract value from unstructured content, IDC surveyed 2,155 organizations in six countries and conducted in-depth interviews with 11 enterprises in the United States and Europe. It then identified a set of leading organizations that have a high “Knowledge Quotient” (KQ) -- a score developed by IDC that identifies an organization's ability to unlock the hidden value of information.

IDC found that those entities with top KQ scores -- about 10% of its sample -- are five times more likely to see benefits from information access, analysis, and sharing projects.