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For many kinds of businesses worldwide, the collection, storage and strategic analysis of data has become a significant competitive differentiator. To achieve long-term success and to break free from the shackles of competition, a company needs to firmly establish its competitive advantage by providing more value with its products and services that any other competing entity.
Achieving this is difficult without large volumes of relevant and crucial business intelligence, which comes in the form of different kinds of data. For any large scale data extraction requirement, there are a number of tools available for use. Web scraping, which was considered a novelty just a few years ago, has now become a regularly practiced mainstream business activity. Companies routinely employ strategic web scraping to gather better, timely, more relevant information to help make insightful business decisions.
Web scraping tools come in different packages. Some tools take the dreariness out of the process of collecting data by giving users the option to automate common data collection tasks. There are other types of tools that provide better, more detailed customization options which makes for more targeted and precise collection of relevant data. For large scale requirements, the latter option might be more favorable for businesses in the long run for many reasons. Although automated crawlers work fast and require minimal configuration, the major advantages of customized crawlers are hard to ignore when we consider the immense value they impart in large volumes of data collection requirements.
Web Crawling Tools Basics
Web crawlers or web scrapers are programs, usually written in languages like Python, Ruby or Java. The main function of these programs is to scan or crawl a large selection of websites and webpages according to a certain set of predefined parameters. They then go on to extract all the relevant data fields and to store them in a database for later analysis and use. As it is with most other kinds of software, web scraping tools also come in many different varieties, each with its own unique set of features and customization and automation options. Different people have different tastes and preferences when it comes to their choice and usage of these web scraping tools. The difference in features across multiple tools makes for a versatile, interesting playing field where the particular requirements of a company can be best addressed using certain important features.
There are also a number of professional Web crawling service providers who take care of large-scale data extraction needs for different companies. These service providers use the right mix of features and technologies to offer tailor made, customized web crawling services. One of the major points of contention where decisions need to be made early is whether to use a tool which has swift and easy automation options, or one which allows for more customized and targeted retrieval of data. While both these approaches have their own sets of advantages, for mass scale web crawls, customized web scrapers have been found to be much more effective in many different ways. Customized web scraping does not only yield more targeted and specific data from websites, it also presents an opportunity to companies to get better return on investment when it comes to large-scale web crawling requirements. These advantages entail that many companies are currently using customized crawling techniques as opposed to automated tools for their web scraping needs.
Key Business Advantages
To generate the relevant information pertaining to a particular kind of business, the field of competition, the customer base, and other important market variables, you need highly specific and relevant information that can be analyzed and used to create meaningful business intelligence. With business intelligence widely being considered as one of the most important commodities crucial for the success or failure of a business, this makes focused web crawling one of the most potentially important business activities.
Instead of spending large amounts of time and resources on the evaluation and categorization of scraped data using automated crawls, companies can receive the relevant data that they need in one swift, intuitive process using customized crawling techniques. It is important to remember that the process of web crawling, like many other business processes, needs to be cost-effective and needs to provide enough compelling and actionable results to justify itself. In the light of these observations, here are some of the more important advantages that customized crawling techniques have over automated ones –
With automated web crawlers, one of the main problems that companies face is the lack of the ability to pick and choose the right data from the very beginning. Automated web crawlers usually collect all the available information on webpages and store the whole of it in the database. Consequently, it takes a lot of time and effort to sift through these apparently random pieces of information and fish out those elements which are actually relevant to the business.
With customized web crawling, there is the option of custom data extraction. The process might be comparatively slower compared to automated crawling and require more configuration time. However there is no doubt that using customized crawling techniques yields better, more targeted and actionable data fields which can directly be submitted to analysis without the need for any further sifting or filtering.
This data can be directly fed into business analysis software or existing business processes as an important, difference making chunk of information. This in turn can cause immediate impact on the overall business and open new avenues and opportunities for devising the right plans and strategies going ahead.
Data acquired from custom web crawling is also more likely to provide you with the relevant information that you need without facing the dreariness of having to put the stored data through multiple filtering processes to come up with the relevant portions.
Web crawling is a process which requires investment from companies. Employing a third-party web scraping service provider is something for which companies need to plan financially. As with any other kind of financial investment, web scraping also needs to be cost-effective and provide value for money.
In this aspect, customized web crawling techniques are more productive, efficient and intuitive and are much more likely to give you better return on investment for your business. Without the need of having to go through multiple painstaking and time taking processes, you can get all the information that you require from one streamlined, highly efficient crawling process. Not only does it cost less to carry out customized web scraping, the much higher quality of information that you receive in return ensures that with customized crawls you get much more value for money. With modern web crawling tools allowing for high degrees of complex and nuanced customization, finding just the right data for your business needs can become much easier and faster to achieve.
Better Time Management
With automated web crawling, the click time you gain on the actual crawling process gets more than offset by the extra time the generated information needs to be classified and sorted into meaningful data. For many businesses, the ensuing results from web crawling are related to business processes that are time critical.
Faced with such a situation, it is a wise decision to opt for customized web scrapers. These tools take more time to yield results, but since the resultant information is absolutely ready for use without the need for any further processing, you can save a lot of time using these techniques. This ensures that time-critical business processes remain on course and you get valuable, actionable data which can go on to form crucial business intelligence for the success of your company.
As we can see, automated web crawlers and customized web scrapers both have their own distinct advantages. For large-scale requirements, however, customized crawling techniques can be a much better fit due to their efficiency, effectiveness, better time management and more cost-effective nature.
No matter what field of business you are into, you can always use customized web crawling to gather a large wealth of applicable, targeted information about
- Your chosen field of business,
- Your competing companies and their strategies, and
- Your target audience, consisting of existing customers and prospective ones.
This crucial business intelligence can very well go on to become the difference maker for your company fortunes and propel your business to new heights of success. While automated web crawlers might be an appealing option at first due to their blazingly fast speed of data retrieval and storage, much more value can be derived from customized web scraping options which allow you to specifically target certain market and user segments to recover important information.
In this day and age, it has become increasingly difficult to rise above the competition and become a successful business venture. With customized web scraping at your disposal, you can make informed and insightful decisions which would propel you to new heights of success while providing you with open access to relevant and actionable data which can be used for a variety of business purposes.
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