Tag Cloud, You're It! - Visualize Your Unstructured Data

Dan Grady's picture
 By | May 19, 2014
in WebFOCUS, Advanced Visualization, Big Data, Business Analytics, Data Discovery, Data Visualization, Intelligent Search , Social Media
May 19, 2014

Get more value out of all of the unstructured textual data you are capturing by applying word frequency analysis and visualizing the results in a Tag Cloud.

If you are in the technology business, more specifically the information business, you probably receive a minimum of 10 emails a week with the term “Big Data” somewhere in the subject line. And no wonder - it's a hot topic.

All this "big conversation" on big data has skewed the focus to dealing with the volume of data,  but when it comes to data, the point is almost always about the analysis: specifically, what insights are you gleaning from the data and how is that impacting your business?

Many will argue that when it comes to big data, size doesn’t matter. It’s the unstructured nature of the data that causes the biggest challenges but also offers some of the greatest benefits.  Social media gets the bulk of the attention when discussing unstructured data sources, but there are many other textual data sources that if analyzed could reveal impactful insights – patient surveys, help desk tickets, call center logs, etc.  Every organization has some form of textual data they should be analyzing. What's yours?  

That's usually an easy question, but the reason this data has been left untouched for years is because most organizations can't analyze it effectively. This concept is sometimes called "Feedback Analytics".

One of the more popular ways to start analyzing textual data is with something known as a Tag Cloud.

tag cloud or word cloud  is a visualization typically used to represent  the frequency of terms inside a set of textual data.  Tags are usually single words with their relative importance/volume indicated by the font size or color. 

The tag cloud is an effective way to get an understanding of the most popular topics in a large volume of textual data.  Tag Clouds are also sometimes referred to as “Word Frequency Analysis”.

I usually use this example: if there are 12,000 posts and comments on my company's Facebook page, it’s somebody's job to read them all. I’m just glad it isn’t mine. I’d prefer to use a tag cloud to understand the nature of the conversation and then just generate a report that gives me the commentary for only the most popular topics. 

As mentioned earlier tag clouds are typically found in combination with social media commentary, but can be applied to any textual data source. Here you’ll find several tag cloud examples that have been part of our #TagCloudTuesday analysis. Enjoy.

If you are interested in more detailed information about tag cloud functionality you can find that here