Data is either structured or unstructured. Structured data is neatly arranged in rows and columns, like a spreadsheet. Unstructured data is messy and disorganised. It shambles towards us as PDFs, Word documents, presentations, open-ended survey responses, webpages, blog posts, social media sites, audio files, images and emails.
Both types of data can support decision-making. For example, the free-form responses in a tenant survey enrich the data gathered from structured questions, and landlords benefit from both. In real estate more attention is paid to structured data, where the analytical processes and technology are mature. But unstructured data is also valuable. And there is far more of it.
A pair of wranglers
On this side of the Atlantic to wrangle means to argue or bicker. On the American side it means to round up cattle, horses, or other livestock. More recently, it has acquired a new meaning – wrangling data has come to mean the process of cleaning and unifying messy data sets for easier access and analysis. The messiest data is likely to be the unstructured data. A data wrangler is someone who integrates information from multiple sources and transforms it into something more useful.
If your firm’s real estate data comes from disparate sources, or is stored on a scattering of legacy systems, you might need to try on some wranglers.