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Structured data are data that are organized in a format easily used by a database or other technology.
Data conform to fixed fields. That means those utilizing data can anticipate having fixed-length pieces of information and consistent models in order to process that information.
In the past, structured data was the norm, and much of structuring data was done by human hands. For example, humans mined documents for fixed-length information that could be built into database tables.
More recently, different kinds of NoSQL technologies and other advances have led to the aggregation and use of relatively unstructured data, where computer systems can analyze less structured data in more precise ways.
This is leading to a major change in how companies collect, store and use data, with high-powered analytics systems and other resources. In turn, this has a major effect on business operations, for example customer relationships, supply chains, and internal efforts to grow or expand a business.