Analytics Unleashed: Shinydocs CEO zeroes in on unstructured data management

At IT World Canada’s second annual Analytics Unleashed event, Jason Cassidy, chief executive officer (CEO) of Waterloo-based enterprise content management company, Shinydocs, drilled down on the importance of structuring enterprise data.

“We communicate over our machines to each other visually through documents, audio, media, images, and these things become records and important information that needs to be recalled in the future. And it’s just unpredictable as to where the right piece of information is going to be, especially with the diversity of storage and collaboration tools that people are using right now every day.” explained Cassidy.

Remembering to manually structure every piece of data, however, is not practical. People do not prepare the future use cases for their data, or whether or not that data will be recalled. “It’s the core of why Enterprise Content Management failed, is that people who are out there creating this information, they don’t want to be deputized as records managers, they don’t want to be deputized as information governors, they just want to create and consume information and do their job.”

Shinydocs take a different approach from traditional content management to solve this problem, Cassidy said.

Two things drove Shinydocs’ segue from traditional content management: First is looking at Google, figuring out and replicating how the platform “understands what information is and where it is and how it relates to the intended use for people,” and second is coming to terms with the fact that moving unstructured data to a structured and predictable place does not necessarily work. 

Businesses and organizations just have so much data, and a whole ecosystem associated with it, that the idea of restructuring all data and operations from, for instance, a shared drive to cloud, will likely be rejected by the business.

Hence, Shinydocs goes where the content is: “just wherever your information is. First, find out where it is, how much of it you have, and then start layering on tools to understand what the data is. And then that unlocks all the value and the ability to then manage it properly, perhaps move it to the right spot.”

Finally, Cassidy provides his four steps for enterprises to get their data in place:

  1. Find out where all of your unstructured information is. 
  2. Identify what the content is 
  3. Align it with your business processes and values
  4. Give the data a lifecycle and manage or delete it, depending on your goals

“There’s lots of big organizations out there trying to build artificial intelligence. In other words, we all want to get there. But before that vision can become reality, we need to just do the basics really well. That means bringing all of the unstructured and structured data together to fuel your business. And until you take those four steps, you will never get to that super computer vision where all you have to do is click save, and everything happens just right. We will never get there unless you start right,” he concluded.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Ashee Pamma
Ashee Pamma
Ashee is a writer for ITWC. She completed her degree in Communication and Media Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. She hopes to become a columnist after further studies in Journalism. You can email her at [email protected]

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