The amount of data we’re generating each and every day is mind-boggling, which is fueled largely by internet searches, social media, digital communication, and the Internet of Things (IoT). To put things into perspective, Data Age predicts that by 2025 the global datasphere will grow to 163 zettabytes.
One way that businesses are capitalizing on this data boom is with web scraping and web data integration tools. Here’s what you need to know about this technology and how it is improving business operations.
What is web scraping?
Web scraping is a term used to describe the process of collecting a large volume of data from across the web. It’s usually done with software where the data is extracted from numerous websites and saved into a repository.
As cloud expert Janet Williams explains, “A web scraping software will automatically load multiple web pages one by one, and extract data, as per requirements. It is either custom-built for a specific website or is one, which can be configured, based on a set of parameters, to work with any website.”
It’s beneficial because it eliminates the need to extract a large amount of data manually, and is much faster than manually copying and pasting. Web scraping also provides companies with a personalized analysis so they can gain in-depth insights into areas like customer behavior, public demand, and their online reputation.
What is web data integration?
Web data integration relies on a similar premise to web scraping but is far more robust and sophisticated. It involves a five-step process:
- Identify: Decide what data your business needs and where it’s located on the internet.
- Extract: Get the data from those internet sources.
- Prepare: Data is cleansed, normalized, and enriched to ensure the highest possible level of quality and accuracy.
- Integrate: Data goes to applications like Excel, Google Sheets, or a custom analytics engine.
- Consume: Data is displayed visually on charts, graphs, or custom reports for intuitive analysis.
Emerging web data integration trends
With most business owners striving to make their companies more data-driven, the use of web data integration is rapidly increasing. A study by capital market dynamics research company Opimas Analysis found that spending will increase from $2.5 billion in 2017 to nearly $7 billion by 2020.
One of the main reasons for this trend is the level of accuracy that web data integration provides. Twenty-nine percent of businesses currently feel that their data is inaccurate in some way — a statistic that has remained unchanged for several years now.
And with 95% of companies seeing a negative impact from poor data quality, strong efforts have been made to replace traditional web scraping with the more comprehensive web data integration.
As it becomes more advanced, we’re seeing a wide variety of use cases ranging from price monitoring and price optimization to sentiment analysis and investment research. Experts believe this technology can unlock the true value of the web and will reveal many insights that would have gone unnoticed in the past.
There’s certainly no lack of data out there. Today’s brands have access to a volume of data that would have been unimaginable just ten years ago. The only roadblock is that many are having trouble making full use of it.
While web scraping has definitely been advantageous, web data integration is an even more powerful end-to-end solution that dramatically improves data quality to assist leaders in critical decision-making. And considering that it can be used across numerous verticals, web data integration will only become more ubiquitous in upcoming years.