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Outsourcing your web scraping project might be an intimidating decision to make considering that you are trusting a third-party vendor with the potential to impact your big data project positively or negatively. This fear is not completely pointless. Since the insights and results that you derive from data are only as good as the data itself, you must indeed be very cautious while outsourcing your web scraping project to a service provider. Although outsourcing the scraping project comes with a lot of benefits to your organization, there are some things to know before choosing a vendor. Let’s explore if outsourcing is the right path for you and understand what you should look for while outsourcing your data scraping requirement.
Is outsourcing web scraping the right option for you?
Web scraping is a complicated and niche process that requires high level technical skills and an extensive tech stack. This should be complemented with a robust infrastructure that can support the resource-intensive tasks associated with web scraping. Not all organizations can afford to set up an in-house crawling setup and hire technical labor to take care of it. Here are some pointers to help you decide if outsourcing web scraping is the best choice for you.
If you are looking for web data to use in your academic project or just want to tinker with some data, it’s unlikely that outsourcing can work out for you. Most dedicated web scraping services cater to the data requirements of businesses. It is unlikely that a web scraping provider would take up small and one-time requirements. The best option for hobbyists is to use a DIY tool to extract the data. This will also give you a basic understanding and hands on experience with data extraction although limited in scope.
Startups often lack the budget to get started with expensive means of web scraping. If you are just starting up and data isn’t a priority, trying to get the data via an API or a DIY web scraping tool might be good options. However, these options are extremely limited and can prove to be a hindrance to growth if your business is dependent on web data. Most of the times, these are available only to partners and come with expensive subscription fees. If the data requirement is recurring or large scale, you should consider outsourcing the project.
Small businesses are likely to have higher requirements when it comes to data. However, the cost of setting up and maintaining an in-house crawling system would be too high for small businesses. The cost hiring, training and managing a dedicated team of engineers would be too much. Apart from that, you’ll also have to invest in an infrastructure that will be able to support high data volumes. Considering an in-house crawling system will also affect your organization in terms of focus in the core business, it’s better to take the outsourcing route. Outsourcing the data extraction project to a vendor is the best choice for small businesses as the cost is significantly lower than that of in-house crawling. You can calculate your ROI on web crawling by using this ROI calculator.
Large enterprises can afford to set up their own in-house crawling setup and also hire the necessary talent to carry out the data extraction. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t outsource your data extraction project. In fact, there are various advantages to outsourcing your web scraping requirement to a dedicated data scraping service provider.
Advantages of outsourcing web scraping
Dedicated Data as a Service companies have several years of experience in this domain and have gone through the trial & error mode to perfect their system. They also understand the nuances of web data extraction and have the right type of solution for various websites. Let’s now go through the exact benefits of outsourcing your web scraping requirement to a service provider:
- Ready to use data
- Fully managed
- Uninterrupted data flow
- No maintenance worries
- Multiple options for data delivery
How to choose a web scraping service provider
The quality of the insights and the end result of the application of data is completely dependent on the quality of the data. Choosing a web scraping service provider should be done with utmost care for the same reason. Here are the things that you should look for while choosing a data service provider for your business.
Monitoring is perhaps the first and most important thing to look for while evaluating a web scraping service provider. Websites on the internet keep getting updated on a regular basis and this can cause the web crawling setup to break. If the web scraping provider that you choose doesn’t have proper monitoring mechanisms implemented, you might face data loss and interruptions when the target site gets updates.
Data delivery options
When you have a dedicated data provider in place, processing the delivered data to change its format is the last thing you’d want. You should always make sure that the web scraping service provider that you choose can deliver the data in multiple formats so as to ensure compatibility and ease of use with your data analytics system. This also holds true for the data delivery methods. Going with a vendor that provides the data through multiple delivery modes will be a better option as it provides you more flexibility.
Make sure that the data scraping service provider that you choose delivers high quality data. A good solution will employ data processing practices like deduplication, cleansing and structuring to make the data machine ready. Bad quality data might contain duplicate entries, noise and can lack a fixed schema. This can tamper with the results that you can get from analyzing this data. It’s crucial to choose a vendor that provides high quality data.
Sometimes things can go wrong with even the best service provider. This is why you should make sure the vendor you choose has a prompt and helpful support system in place to take care of client issues. Support is extremely important in web scraping as unsolved issues can lead to data loss and end up badly for your business. Our own requirement gathering dashboard – CrawlBoard is an example of a one stop tool where clients can add new projects, download their data and avail timely support.
Most companies tend to allocate a common budget for their data project without considering the important and standalone stages that are part of it. Data acquisition itself is a challenge and attention-deserving activity that demands an exclusive budget. It’s never a good idea to finalize data analytics budget without factoring in the cost of data acquisition. The ideal course of action is to understand the importance of data acquisition as a process in the big data project and allocate a dedicated budget so that you don’t run out of funds to acquire data. You can read more on allocating an optimal budget for data acquisition in our previous blog.
Web data being a highly sought after resource for business intelligence by organizations irrespective of the size, it’s high time you find a suitable web scraping service provider to take end-to-end ownership of your data acquisition requirements. Since quality is a deal breaker when it comes to data, you should evaluate your options and only choose a data provider with proven expertise in web crawling.