If you have to work with a vast amount of information, consider scraping real-time data. Real-time scraping is an automated process you can use to gather real-time information from websites and transfer them to databases and spreadsheets. It’s often used to keep track of constantly changing data like coronavirus case numbers, weather forecasts, and more.
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An efficient and powerful form of data collection, scraping real-time data will allow you to take your business to the next level. By integrating real-time data into your workflow, you’ll be able to make informed, strategic decisions to boost productivity and revenue. Read on to learn more about real-time data and how you can use Scraping Robot to gather real-time data.
What is Real-Time Data?
Real-time data refers to data that is acquired immediately after collection. In other words, there is no delay when you scrape the data.
To get real-time data, you need real-time processing, which requires:
- Constant input
- Constant processing
- Constant output of data
Examples of real-time data you can get from real-time processing include:
- Coronavirus cases
- Stock prices
- Weather forecasts
- Server activity
- eCommerce purchases
- In-store purchases
- Geo-locating things and people
- And more
Note that real-time data shouldn’t be confused with near-real-time data. Although the two have some similarities, they are not interchangeable.
Near real-time data
While real-time data is processed instantly, near-real-time data is only processed quickly or near-instantly — not immediately. Examples include:
- Financial transaction processing
- Sensor data processing
- IT systems monitoring
In many cases, near-real-time data isn’t a replacement for real-time data. While it is fast, near-real-time data doesn’t provide industries such as advertising, financial services, and transportation with real-time data that can be used immediately to make key decisions and deliver services and products to customers.
What’s the Value of Real-Time Data?
Here are the ways integrating real-time data into your workflow can make running your business easier and more profitable.
1. Provides important insight for vital business decisions
Real-time data can give you important insight for making vital business decisions immediately. For example, if you work in public transport, you need access to real-time data about weather patterns so you know when the next train will come and if there are any weather conditions (i.e., heavy snow) that will cause delayed arrival times. In a similar vein, if you are a trader, you need access to real-time stock market data to make quick decisions about which stocks are the best to invest in.
2. Boost business agility and efficiency
Even if you don’t work in an industry that requires access to real-time data, having time-accurate information can help your business become more efficient. Oftentimes, many businesses use data that is days, weeks, or even months old. This leads to delays, miscommunication, and a general lack of productivity.
Using data that’s always up-to-date will enable you to make important decisions more quickly and in turn, boost your business’ revenue.
3. Make your business more customer-centric
Real-time data can also help your business become more customer-centric and personalized. When customers contact you, they don’t want to be put on hold so you can find a representative who knows their stuff. If you or your agents have real-time data available, then you can respond to customers’ queries quickly and accurately.
Some companies, for instance, use a real-time data dashboard that automatically shows customer information whenever a customer calls, doing away with the need to look up customer data and history. This dashboard can also be used to spot bottlenecks in the customer queue. From there, you can determine which parts of the store or website need agents to step in and help.
4. Keep your employees motivated
Real-time data can also motivate your employees to work harder and smarter. By giving your employees access to real-time data about what needs to be improved and how they can meet their goals, your employees will have an easier time raising their performance standards.
5. Identify which employees need help
Real-time data will help you identify which employees need help. By keeping real-time statistics on employee performance, you’ll be able to get a clear idea of who is performing well and who needs more help to meet their goals. You can then give superior performers the recognition they deserve and identify employees who need additional assistance and training.
How to Get Real-Time Data
If you need real-time data analytics to level up your business, you should get an Application Programming Interface (API).
An API is a software interface that connects different programs by allowing them to transfer data. Using an API enables you to connect your scraped data to your machine so you can control and manage the scraped data. Although there are many methods of web scraping, none of them work in real-time. This means that using an API is the best — and only — way to get real-time data.
Scraping Real-Time Data with an API
To scrape real-time data with an API, you need to follow these steps:
- Pick a real-time data API scraping tool.
With a glut of scraping tools on the market, it can be hard to decide which is the best for you — especially if you’re new to scraping data.
Ask yourself the following questions to find the best fit:
- Can my scraping tool give me real-time data?
- This is the most important question. Not all APIs can scrape real-time data, so be sure to confirm that it can before downloading and using it.
- What is my budget?
- What will I be using real-time data for?
- Will I be extracting data from multiple websites at once? If so, how many?
- Not all data scraping tools allow you to extract data from multiple websites at once. Even those who do allow this may impose a limit on how many websites you can input at once. If you’re short on time and you need to have real-time data from multiple websites at once, look for a scraping tool that allows for this.
- Which functions do I need? Which functions would be nice, but aren’t necessary? Is there anything that would be a deal-breaker?
- Is the data extraction tool secure? This is a particularly important consideration if you’re extracting confidential and/or sensitive data.
- Do I want a browser-based plugin, which typically has weaker security and fewer functions? Or do I want downloadable software with a full suite of functions?
- Note that some software, such as Scraping Robot API, are browser-based, but have as many functions as most downloadable software. Scraping Robot API is also totally secure.
Whichever software you pick, make sure you understand the software documentation before you install it.
- Go to the web page(s) you want to scrape.
- Paste the URL(s) of the web pages into the scraping program.
- Get the full HTML output instantly.
- Export the data to an analysis program or database such as Graphpad, SPSS, or XLSTAT.
Why Scraping Robot is the Best Real-time Data Scraping API tool
Scraping Robot is the best scraping API for real-time data because it is a free, browser-based tool that doesn’t require downloading or installing. It’s also incredibly straightforward to use and doesn’t require knowing a lot of code, making it the perfect choice for scraping newcomers.
Scraping Robot also allows you to extract more information at once. Most web scraping tools have an extraction sequence for HTML elements on a page. This means that you have to manually select what category should be extracted next after the first category (usually text) has been completed. In contrast, Scraping Robot API gives you every HTML category after you press the “run” button.
To use Scraping Robot API, all you have to do is:
- Go to Scraping Robot API.
- Go to the web page you want to scrape.
- Paste the URL into the program.
- Get the full HTML output instantly.
- Export the data to your data analytics program or database.
If you want to learn more about how we implemented the Scraping Robot API, check out this blog post.
Real-time Data Analytics You Can Trust
Real-time data can add a lot of value to your business. It can help your business’s agility and efficiency, making it more customer-centric, keeping your employees motivated, and identifying which employees need help.
Although scraping may sound difficult, there are tools that make the scraping process incredibly intuitive and user-friendly. Scraping Robot’s API does just that. Unlike many other scraping tools, it’s browser-based and doesn’t require much coding knowledge to use. Scraping Robot’s API also simplifies the extraction process by allowing you to collect any and all HTML data and create a data funnel to populate your database or analytics software.
If Scraping Robot API isn’t working for you and you have an idea for a new module, reach out to us. We are always eager to work with our customers to create new ways of using and manipulating data.
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