The number of netizens across the globe was reportedly a whopping 4.13 billion in 2019! That means more than half the world’s population is constantly using the internet and generating vast amounts of data. If properly collected, collated, and analyzed, this data can be used for everything from recruitment to financial analysis, consumer trend analysis, marketing, lead generation, and so much more. This data is referred to as web data, and it has vast applications in business.
Web data integration is how you take these vast datasets, clean them up and blend them into your business processes for better decision-making. As the internet community expands, making business decisions based on intuition and experience doesn’t cut it anymore. You need to make decisions that are informed by qualified datasets. Integrating web data into your business processes is how you do this.
However, knowing that you need data is one thing. Being able to get the data you need, when you need it is something else entirely. Manually extracting data produced by almost half-a-trillion people is next to impossible. You need a specialized data collection solution like web scraping. In this article, we will discuss the process of integrating data in detail, how data integration tools work, and how to extract web data with web scraping. If you are already on to the basics of integrating web data, you can use the table of contents to skip ahead to sections that interest you more.
Table of Contents
What Is Business Data Integration?
Data Integration is a concept that allows businesses to implement web data in their decision-making processes. With the shift in the business landscape towards data-driven solutions, companies need to establish a baseline use of available internet data. Put simply; there is a minimum level of data use that you have to achieve as a business owner. Your competitors, your customers, the industry, and the business world at large expect it from you. Data integration is how you achieve this baseline level of data use.
Using unique tools designed for integrating data, you can directly extract data from the web and integrate it directly into your business processes, allowing you to make real-time decisions based on patterns and trends observed from the available data. One of the most significant advantages of business data integration is its low risk and less resource requirement.
Why Is Data Integration Vital To the Success of Your Business?
Most of the data available on the internet were created in the last decade. Currently, about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are being produced daily. That is a mind-boggling amount of data. However, most of this data is unstructured and designed for human consumption, not machines. But to successfully consume this data at scale and produce actionable insights that can drive successful decision-making, you need the help of machines. And that is where data collection and integration come in.
Data integration techniques help you create a supply chain that collects data, collates it, cleans it, and then feeds it directly into your business processes. In the process of collecting this data, the integration tools also refine it into a structured mass that can be easily understood, both by humans and machines.
The ability to extract the gems of valuable data amid the mass web data (most of it useless to you) is something of a superpower. Data integration tools give you this superpower. When combined with enterprise data sitting in data warehouses, web data can produce top-level actionable insights that can revolutionize your business. It is no longer enough to have data about your business. You need to know about what goes on outside your walls.
Also, when you integrate data into your activities and processes, it brings in a level of automation. Rather than manually taking your decision-making process from zero to a hundred percent, data integration allows you to automate lower-level decisions, leaving you to deliberate on the final decision alone.
For example, say you are trying to decide on the best marketing channel to market a particular product. To do that, you have first to identify all the channels available. Then you have to determine the volume of your consumers that use each channel. You need to collect consumer data to find out where they will most likely search for a product with your new product’s attributes. Only after all these can you make a final decision on your marketing channel.
By using integrated data from web processes, however, you can automate the entire process from identifying channels to collecting consumer data with business insights from web data. Once your data integration tools give you a result, you can simply pick the best channel based on the data returned.
Ways To Integrate Data for Your Business
Data is present in every aspect of the internet, whether it is your social media platforms, forums, retail sites, price comparison sites, industry blogs, financial news sites, auction sites, and any other kind of website. All these data sources represent a wealth of valuable information for your business. Here a few ways you can use this data:
- Historical data analysis: The past (history) plays a significant part in predicting the future. In the finance world, experts use the pattern or trends of a product, service, cryptocurrency, and forex pairs to read a chart and come up with statistics. These charts or statistics can be used for future references, research, and to forecast possible outcomes. Accuracy is highly critical when it comes to history because one wrong fact can change the course of your decision. Using integration tools allows you to collect historical data from various sources in one place and implement data analytics to extract insights that can predict future occurrences in your industry.
- Real-time data integration: You need real-time data analytics for a lot of reasons. For example, imagine you are a busy CEO who travels a lot, and you continuously need updates. Using real-time data from integration tools, you can synchronize your data updates to give the most relevant information at specific times. You can also use these tools to keep up with industry updates and changes in the market. You cannot get these types of information with enterprise data analysis, which is why you need to integrate data from the general web into your business processes.
- Big data analysis: There is a wealth of data on the internet, and with the right methods and techniques, you can take this unwieldy mass of data and turn it into neat and ready-to-use information. Big data integration tools allow you to implement big data analytics with web data, offering a vaster range of insights than traditional business intelligence or enterprise data.
How To Pick the Best Tools for Data Integration
It takes a lot of research, testing, and trial-and-error to commit to a decision like picking one among the multitude of data integration tools that exist. It is a decision that will cost you a lot of money, time, and effort and therefore should be carefully considered. Now, while there is no all-perfect solution, there are a few things you should look out for before picking one among the myriad of big data integration tools. Here are some of the elements of a good integration tool:
- Security: Data compromisation has become a very big issue in the past few years. More and more companies are looking for ways to secure their data against invaders, from inside and outside. So, if you are picking a tool to use in integrating data into your business processes, one of your very first considerations should be security. Is your data going to be secure, from invaders and the company itself? What kind of security protocols does the software use? Can the security protocols be enhanced?
- Ease-of-use: You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars acquiring the tool and then thousands more to learn how to use it. Big data integration tools have varying degrees of technicality in their use, and you should go for the easiest to set up and fulfill your needs.
- Support and updates: With the way technology advances, the best tools today might be the worst tomorrow. Therefore you need to pick a company that continually updates its software. Also, you could accidentally break (figuratively) the tool or need additional support in using it. So the company should also offer technical support after the purchase.
- Price: The most expensive tool isn’t necessarily the best, and the best tool isn’t necessarily what you need. Depending on your data needs, you need to pick a tool that offers you all you need without you having to break the bank.
Applying Data Integration Techniques With Web Scraping
One data collection technique that offers a lot of potential for integrating web data is web scraping. It is a process that involves hiring or writing a program that commands a bot to extract data from any URL you insert. Not only does it extract data for you, but it also compiles it into a structured format (in Excel sheets) and converts it to a CSV file.
Web scraping, if done right allows you to extract data from any website on the internet. Basically, it allows you to extract all forms of web data. Even better, it structures the data for you and then downloads it into a usable format, like a CSV file. Web scraping offers a cost-effective way to get your hands on web data. This allows you to eliminate the process of obtaining data from the duties of your data integration tool. Therefore you can simply opt for an analytics tool, which combined with your web scraping bot, allows you to collect web data, structure it, analyze it and then feed it into your business processes.
At Scraping Robot, this is our mission. We help businesses like you simplify the process of extracting web data. Instead of spending time, money, and effort to purchase and set up data integration tools, you can use our scraping service to serve as your data collection solution. All you have to do is send us a message, describing your data needs to get started. Our developers will get started building your custom scraping solution for you right away.
You can also try out your hand at some DIY scraping with our pre-built modules. Once you sign up for our service, you get 5000 free scrapes to scrape any website of your choice. After that, every scrape costs only $0.0018, and you are under no obligation to renew your subscription after using your free scrapes. Our scraping service uses APIs and multiple proxies to allow you to collect data in real-time and from multiple pages simultaneously. This data is downloaded in a format that you can feed directly into your analytics software.
Data integration tools offer you a way to make sense of the massive amount of data generated on the general web every day. Web scraping offers you a way to cut the integration short and get data as easily as possible. At Scraping Robot, we aim to empower your data collection processes and make them as seamless as possible.
The information contained within this article, including information posted by official staff, guest-submitted material, message board postings, or other third-party material is presented solely for the purposes of education and furtherance of the knowledge of the reader. All trademarks used in this publication are hereby acknowledged as the property of their respective owners.