2.2.2 Management of data
Computers generally lack the contextual awareness and intuitiveness of humans. As a result it is important to consider the following two states of data: structured and unstructured.
Structured data refers to data that is entered and maintained in fixed fields within a file or record. Structured data is easily entered, classified, queried, and analysed by a computer. For example, when you submit your name, address, and billing information to a website, you are creating structured data. The structure will force a certain format for entering the data to minimise errors and make it easier for a computer to interpret it. Figure 8 represents different types of data being stored in specified locations so that computer programs can then locate the data.
Unstructured data lacks the organisation found in structured data. Unstructured data is raw data. It does not possess the scaffolding that identifies the value of the data. Unstructured data lacks a set way of entering or grouping the data, and then analysing the data. Examples of unstructured data include the content of photos, audio and video files.
Structured and unstructured data are valuable assets to individuals, organisations, industries, and governments. Like other assets, the information gathered from both structured and unstructured data has measurable value. However, the value of that data can increase or decrease depending on how that data is managed. Even the best data loses value over time.
It is important for organisations to take all forms of data (structured, unstructured, and semi-structured) and determine ways to format that data so it can be managed and analysed.
To understand the management of data, it is important to understand concepts such as data storage and the transportation of data.