Are you using a DIY scraping tool to acquire data for your business? DIY scraping tools seem like an easy to use solution at first. Their seemingly easy set up procedures could be a trap. In the long run, it is possible that they could do more damage to your business than good. Any tool that needs less manual work is for beginners. When it comes to data acquisition for your business, should you really use something meant for the beginners? Let’s say your company is making critical business decisions based on the acquired data. A DIY tool will certainly have its limitations and drawbacks. It can lead to a big disaster if these shortcomings of the DIY tool creep into your business decisions. Let’s see why you should be extremely sceptical about using a DIY scraper tool in your company.
A DIY tool built at a particular point of time might become useless or faulty after the source website undergoes some changes. You might not notice this since DIY scraping tools don’t have mechanisms to monitor or alert when the sites have been modified. This would either make the scraper stop working or it might start scraping the wrong data from them. If went unnoticed, this can lead to massive data losses later on. DIY tools would require constant maintenance to keep it working the way it should. Hence, when it comes to data acquisition for business, DIY tools are not a reliable solution.
Since most DIY scraping tools are basically generic, the data scraped by them would have noise. Noise here refers to unwanted elements that the scraping tool scraped along with the required ones. It might become a task in itself to clean up this noise when you want to analyse the data. There are other tools and techniques to clean the noise from data, but this would create an endless loop of DIY tools for you to run and maintain. This obviously calls for more manual labour which again affects your company’s efficiency.
Customization options are very limited in DIY tools. Most DIY tools have just the basic options and features that could qualify it to be called a ‘scraping tool’. Since they are mostly used by amateurs, these limitations don’t bother them very much. But when you have a serious business that needs data, these limitations will hold you down to a point of going downhill. Limitations of the tool would decide the quality of results you can get from the data. This should be a real deal breaker if you are serious about your data acquisition plans.
DIY tools end up creating more work, although they are usually advertised as they make things simple and easy. Any business should focus on their own industry to keep moving forward. Manual labour is required to carry out data scraping in your company. The cost of labour, equipment and other resources could lag your company’s progress considerably. If you are using DIY tools to take care of your data acquisition needs, you are wasting a lot of your company’s resources on something that could be outsourced and be done with. Data scraping being a technology intensive process, outsourcing it makes a lot of sense. This will also help you get better refined data since a scraping service provider has more expertise in the field.
DIY tools are generic. This would mean that the possibility of getting erratic, incomplete or the wrong data is very high with them. Since data is what you use to derive business intelligence, any error or inaccuracies in the data will affect the whole process. You get the wrong results analysing the wrong data and there’s no better recipe for disaster. With professional web scraping services, the results are precise and don’t leave any possibilities of errors. Professional web scraping services do run quality checks and monitor the websites continuously to make sure nothing goes wrong.
Web scraping is a niche process which requires high level technical skills. Assuming your company is into some other less technically oriented business, DIY web scraping could become a constant cause of worry for you. This way, the DIY tool could be degrading the quality of your business operations. Outsourcing the scraping process could easily solve the problem since that would free your time and energy for areas that require more attention from you.
DIY scraping, although might seem really easy to get started can be toxic for your company in the long run. Every business is gearing up with the power of big data and if you were to use a non-reliable tool to acquire the data, your efforts could go haywire. Data is being touted as the oil of the 21st century and you shouldn’t rely on an incompetent DIY tool for mining it.