Today, data is the heart of any business, beating and throbbing, and helping it grow, even more so, if the business is tech related. In such an environment, many businesses are dependent on web scraping for collecting data to make business decisions and populate data sheets. However, unstructured data or data that does not have any RSS feeds would be difficult for a business without proper data engineers, to grab from the web and utilize.
Hiring people to manually find data and populate excel sheet? Do you really want to waste time and money in that tedious and impractical process? Say, you have a B2C online portal and you need to add a thousand products for an upcoming summer sale. You need to make sure, that your prices are competitive. For that, you will need to check whether your prices are at par with your competitors’ sites. In case the number of products is even more, and there are a lot of competitors, can you imagine how many man hours it will take for you to get the job done?
This is where automated web scraping comes into the picture. For making the best business decisions, there is a high probability that your business will need a dedicated web scraping team, that can crawl the web and gather for you any data that you might need for your day to day business. Web Crawling technology was first made popular by Google, for its search engine to work like it does. Can you imagine the number of search results they display, all being indexed by thousands of bots? Yes, they were the first business that saw the big opportunity in crawling and indexing data and made the most of it. So, they sent out hundreds and thousands of crawlers into the web and indexed each and everything that they could possibly find. That is the reason why Google still is the most popular search engine today.
But then if you are thinking- “Hey, I’ll get a coder, and ask him to look after all my web crawling and data capturing needs.”, you are extremely wrong, and I just want to make sure that you do not take this wrong step. Why? Well, read on to find out.
Most basic web scraping software today, are written in R and Python, both of which are relatively new languages and hence the number of developers available in the market, is pretty low. Also, you might have to pay quite an amount to hire this developer. But then, you are putting all your trust in one single person, to handle all your data scraping needs.
Web technologies change every few years. New protocols and security measures also keep changing. In such a case, you need a big team with quite some experts who will be able to keep up with the dynamically changing web scrapping scene. Also, with the advent of intelligent scrapers, you will also need the team to keep a lookout for the latest technologies and work on machine learning and artificial intelligence so that you can make your scraper more intelligent with time. So, you can understand the range of technologies that your team will need to excel at, to handle the entire data scraping requirements of your business.
You would already be taking care of the front end, back end, marketing as well as so many other departments. In such a case, you can understand that creating another team and regulating it and making sure that it works well enough to provide you the data you “need”, would be an uphill task.
While working with a service provider, you can just tell them your requirements and they will provide you data, as per your specific requirements. This way, you save not just money, but time and headache as well. No need for recruiting people to build another team- another department to take care of and maintain records of.
If you think you can set up the software and keep using it over time, then let me tell you, that isn’t a viable option either. Although installing a software is no big thing, for making different searches, you will need to make different configuration changes. Your data needs won’t always be the same. One day you might need data to fill up excel sheets. The next day, you might need the latest news on a topic and so on. And say if you have a new requirement, you need a different format of data, and that format is not available in the configuration file already? Then what will you do? Also, if you are expecting a single software to find data and extract it, and then clean it up for you in a consumable format, you are pretty wrong. You will need two to three different tools or programs, to begin with, and will need regular updates to keep the data flow into your company unhindered. Experimenting with a new team or new hires can take time, and today time is money. By the time you start receiving proper data from the team, it might have been a month or two since you started. That is two months of loss in intelligent business decisions that could have been taken had you approached a service provider that already takes care of the data handling needs of quite a few companies.
You see, data scraping companies have nothing else to worry about but data. They do not have so many other business woes like you do. All they worry about is getting the exacted data that the customer wants, structured in a consumable format. And they have been doing so for years. They already know what format a business might ask for since they would have already been working with other clients. And they would continuously upgrade their algorithms to provide you better results, stay competitive in the market and make their scraping bots more intelligent to save you time.
So, when you think of making excel sheets and pie charts smarter by including more data, you should definitely look into data scraping service providers who can help you make your business smarter and bigger.