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Unstructured Information is a Significant Driver of Big Data Explosion

SAN CARLOS, Calif. — June 6, 2011 — A new survey confirms that unstructured information is growing at a faster clip than relational data and is driving the Big Data explosion. 35 percent of respondents say unstructured information has already or will surpass relational data in the next 36 months. Add in those who think it will happen in the next decade, and the number rises to 52 percent. A majority of survey respondents also acknowledge that unstructured information is growing out of control and is driving the Big Data explosion – a full 91 percent of respondents say unstructured information already lives in their organizations, but many aren’t sure what to do about it. MarkLogic Corporation, the company revolutionizing the way organizations leverage unstructured information, sponsored the survey conducted by Unisphere Research, a division of Information Today, Inc, to look into the issues companies are having with unstructured data.

The findings are alarming – some surveyed are clearly living in the past, not realizing that unstructured information doesn’t fit neatly into the columns and rows of a traditional relational database. But the results offer a ray of hope that many organizations are already ahead of the curve and others who see the unstructured information and Big Data challenges looming are doing something about it now.

“The report clearly shows that most IT managers are facing significant challenges with unstructured information and Big Data,” said Joe Dalton, CMO, MarkLogic. “They know there is immense value hidden within this information, but don’t understand how to handle it and throw old technologies at the problem. With relational databases, companies are using 30 year-old technology to try to tackle today’s information challenges. This would be like trying to build a website with a typewriter. Companies need to start looking for the right tool for the job. MarkLogic enables companies to take their unstructured data and use it for a competitive advantage.”

Among some of the key survey findings:

  • 86 percent of respondents admit that unstructured data is important to their organization, yet only 11 percent have clear procedures and policies for managing unstructured data in place.
  • 80 percent of respondents know the amount of unstructured data will rise in the next three years, but only 24 percent of respondents believe their current infrastructure will be able to adequately manage it.
  • 40 percent of managers are unaware of the extent unstructured data exists in their organization, and only 45 percent of organizations are moderately or strongly committed to leveraging this resource, creating a competitive advantage for those companies that do.

“It’s interesting to note that the majority of organizations spend most of their time managing relational data, yet expect unstructured data to grow and eventually surpass structured data,” said Joseph McKendrick, research analyst, Unisphere Research. “This is further complicated when very few companies have separate governance procedures for unstructured information and admit the processes they do have in place are inadequate. There is a clear need for better business processes that engage unstructured data, leading to improved decision making.”

The survey gathered input from 446 data managers and professionals who are readers of Database Trends and Applications magazine. Among the interesting trends uncovered is that even organizations with higher concentrations of unstructured information face issues with corporate awareness regarding the existence of this data. They devote most of their resources to managing the smaller portion of their data, while moving unstructured information into special-purpose databases or content management systems.

For more information or to download a copy of the report, please click here. For more information on MarkLogic, please visit