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How does Google manage unstructured information - and how can you?

How to manage your unstructured data like Google

| Information Management

Everyone knows Google. In less than 20 years, the Californian company has risen to the third most valuable brand in the world, according to Forbes – and they've done it all by effectively managing information.

In fact, you could argue that data management is all that Google does, providing instant access to a world of information whenever and wherever it's needed. If the company's $367.6 billion brand worth doesn't highlight the value in true information management, perhaps nothing will.

However, for those who take the matter seriously, there's a great opportunity to use information to boost productivity, decision-making and the success of new technology investments – among many other challenges.

So, how has Google set itself up for such a success? For one, it's constantly looked to improve the way it handles the incredibly expanding amount of data created every day. 

How Google manages unstructured data

Google was recently tasked to create the Query Deserves Freshness (or QDF) algorithm after discovering its Google Finance platform didn't rank well on its own search engine. The reason? It favoured older and established web content over new and potentially more relevant pages, with the reasoning being that new posts could be spam.

The QDF tool is a way to quickly scour through unstructured data and find the websites that people most likely want. It took time, but the data management tool has helped Google stay on top by providing users with the information they're looking for, fast.

Google is a prime example of finding value in effective data management.Google is a prime example of finding value in effective data management.

How to emulate Google's success

With the right understanding of how important data are to any organisation, businesses can take a leaf out of Google's book. There are tools available that make finding the right information simpler and quicker throughout your business, in a way that closely resembles the way one of the most successful companies of all time manages its data.

If the company's $367.6 billion brand worth doesn't highlight the value in true information management, perhaps nothing will.

To do this, we need context around unstructured data. After all, data are in their strictest term a fact or figure that conveys very little in terms of meaning – the numbers 30062015, for example.

When we put some context around this, data becomes information – 30/06/2015 is a date. The more context we apply, the more valuable and useful those data become, such as 30/06/2015 being the end of the financial year.

Eventually it crosses into the realms of knowledge, when we can say 30/06/2015 is the end of the financial year and I need to get my records sent off to my accountant to prove tax compliance. It's a simple example, though one that allows people to fundamentally use the information previously locked away in the business's data bases.

There are some great tools out there to make information more manageable, from retention schedules to metadata models. It's a similar toolbox to the one Google uses to keep its search engine unique and the company on top.

And yet, businesses are more tempted to throw money into state-of-the-art software solutions, but without the right business foundations, they'll find this is money down the drain. Instead, much like the $367.6 billion brand, they need to focus on putting effective information management straight through the core of their business, through tools, frameworks, accountability and authority.

To discuss how you can apply the lessons so well demonstrated by Google in your company, the team at Experience Matters can help. We focus on improving organisational structure to help ensure the vast data resources a business has stored away are used to best effect.

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