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Web data integration simply refers to the process of aggregating and channelling data from different web sources into a single workflow (usually your business workflow), and if you are running a business that needs data, in today’s world web data is your best bet. The reason is that from 15.41 billion devices in 2015, today in 2019 we have 26.66 billion devices that are connected, and the numbers are supposed to reach 74.44 billion by 2025. The reason behind such a mammoth growth in devices that are connected to the internet and produce more data is that more and more types of devices are getting internet connectivity. It started with computers and laptops, but now mobile devices, tablets, home appliances, eReaders, autonomous vehicles and intelligent home assistants are all connected to the internet. This is resulting in a massive amount of data that is being generated, whereas a small percentage of this data is being used by companies. To put that into perspective, as per sources like this, 25 billion terabytes of data are produced every single day, of which only half of the structured data is used actively in decision making whereas only 1% of the unstructured data is used for any analytics whatsoever.
From healthcare to self-driving cars, all of these intelligent devices produce a ton of data easily available on the web. All you need to do is collect the data and store it in a format that is easily consumable by your decision making systems.
How can Web Data be integrated to your business?
Web data integration can be anywhere from simple to a huge challenge. In fact, the major reasons behind companies who left behind data on the table in 2018 were the fear of how to crawl data, and even above that- how to integrate the scraped data into existing systems. Companies get used to using the same software and decision systems over the years. Thus web data integration needs a serious commitment to data. However once you actually decide to mend your ways, you would find out that integration of web data is not really a horror movie and wouldn’t impact your business process like a hurricane.
The question is not just about what format you want your data in, but also how you want it to be delivered to you. While CSV, XML and JSON formats might be simple enough to understand, some of the data delivery methods are new in the market. Even then, these are easier to integrate, once understood. How you want your data delivered depends on the use case. Suppose you want users to be able to check the price of flight tickets, then you might let them hit third-party APIs, but when you want to conduct market research on which food items are lesser in demand in the winter, in that case, you might want the entire data in an S3 bucket, so that it can be used by your code to create graphs.
Advantages of Web Data Integration
No matter how hard or easy web data integration is for your company, you should do it if you want to stay in business in the long run. Airlines are deciding which new routes to add using web data. E-commerce sites are deciding what new items to sell using web data. Even fashion companies are deciding what designs to bring in for the next season by analysing web data.
The advantages that you have when you crawl and collect web data are the following-
- You have concrete evidence that can be used for any business decision you want to make.
- You get a better picture of what your competitors are doing.
- It is easier to decide prices for what you offer, be it products or services.
- Maintaining a better public image of the Brand is easier.
Challenges in Web Data Integration
Every technology change brings in difficulties that you must undertake to reap all the benefits. In the case of Web Data Integration, the main challenge lies in how to make changes in existing systems to consume web data. Most companies use machine learning or regression models that consume structured data and produce results. That in itself is a herculean task for a company that has not been using prediction models in its operations. However, such an in-house system would boost business capabilities tremendously and could be used for anything from shaping strategies to marketing and targeted advertising.
Different ways to integrate web data
At PromptCloud, there are different ways in which we can deliver the web data to you. Each way suits a specific purpose. Following are the data delivery methods that we support which will make web data integration easier for you.
If you do not need the entire scraped data at once, and instead need to see records based on certain index number, as and when required, it is better that you use API integration.
This one is a popular service provided by Amazon AWS. It acts as a hard disk in the cloud. It is cheap and you can store data and access it from your code using proper authorization.
Dropbox and Box
These are two more popular data sharing cloud platforms. Both have their own security and other features. PromptCloud offers direct data upload to both these data storage platforms.
If your systems are configured to consume the data available on your own server space, we can push the extracted web data directly to your server via FTP. You just have to share your FTP credentials to enable this service.
How does PromptCloud make web data integration easier?
Every company has different requirements when it comes to web data integration. To solve problems of all such companies, we at PromptCloud, came up with CrawlBoard. CrawlBoard is a DaaS- that is Data as a Service platform designed to make web data integration easier for businesses. We take care of several hurdles via CrawlBoard:
- Issues faced while scraping the data.
- Cleaning the data.
- Structuring the data into consumable formats.
- Providing you with the data in the preferred delivery method.
Once you sign up and log in, you can submit all your details in the interface. Details would include your company name, website links and data fields that need to be scraped.
The figure above shows how the CrawlBoard interface has revolutionised the way companies provide their requirements for web scraping.
In the delivery details page, you are asked the type of crawl, the format (JSON, CSV or XML), the frequency and what is the delivery method that you would like to use. As you can see in the picture, our own API is completely free while you can also choose other options like S3, Dropbox, Box and FTP.
Whether you get a DaaS provider or build your own Web Scraping team, it’s high time that you get your web data integration fixed to run in sync with your business decisions. In a year or two, it will be too late, and you’d become another Blockbuster, demolished by a Netflix.