With 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being generated each day, modern SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) have access to an unprecedented amount of data. Unfortunately, 60 to 70% of it goes unused in terms of analytics, meaning business owners are failing to capitalize on the data boom.
That’s where web data integration comes in. It provides SMEs with a robust analytics platform that not only allows them to efficiently extract and aggregate data but also to make sense of it.
Understanding web data integration is crucial in today’s environment because it gives business owners an opportunity to take advantage of the immense volume of data that’s available and gain key insights that would otherwise be impossible.
What Is Web Data Integration?
Web data integration is the process of extracting and normalizing data from different web sources and preparing the information so that it can be easily consumed through charts, graphs, or other forms of reporting. It relies on a similar premise as traditional web scraping but is a far more comprehensive solution.
Here’s a quick overview of how it works:
- Identify web sources where information is located
- Extract displayed or hidden data
- Clean and prepare the data
- Integrate it with APIs
- Consume the data visually for intuitive insights
What makes web data integration so effective is that it’s an end-to-end solution. “When treated as a single, holistic workflow (from web data extraction to insight) with the same level of data validation discipline that is normally accorded to conventional BI data or big data, web data can yield valuable insights,” explains the research firm Ovum.
In turn, SMEs can gain a level of business intelligence that’s hard to obtain with basic web scraping or other tools. This enables them to make better decisions and refine their strategies to stay ahead in a fast-paced business world.
What Is Web Data Integration Used For?
It has numerous applications. One is to automate and streamline the collection of a large volume of data without having to do it manually. For instance, web scraping is a time-consuming, resource-intensive process, where files must be integrated manually or with other tools.
On the other hand, web data integration offers quick data delivery and requires few, if any, internal resources. It’s largely automated, so information can be rapidly consumed without tying up internal resources.
It can also be used to monitor consumer sentiment and rate a company’s health. By extracting data across a variety of blogs, industry sites, social media platforms, and news aggregator sites, it’s easy to gauge how customers feel about a particular business and which direction it’s trending. This makes it ideal for performing equity research and can help investors make better decisions.
Besides that, web data integration is an excellent tool for price monitoring. Keeping an eye on the pricing of key competitors within an industry allows SMEs to stay ahead of the curve and continually offer competitive pricing. This helps create a more stable customer base, increase conversions, and boost revenue.
Examples of Industries Using Web Data Integration
Retail companies use this technology in a few key ways, with optimizing the customer experience being one of the biggest. SMEs in this industry can keep tabs on how their customers feel about their products and their overall brand by aggregating data from web sources. This puts them in a position to fine-tune their offerings and address minor issues before they become major ones.
Monitoring competitor pricing helps business owners convert more leads and retain a larger percentage of their customer base. And if they’re interested in expanding into new markets, they can do so more confidently by identifying white spaces and determining consumer demand.
Another example is the financial industry, where web data integration makes it possible to access a wide variety of alternative data such as financial statements, public records, and even satellite imagery to make better lending decisions.
For instance, lenders commonly use financial statements to determine a business’s trajectory and see how much of a risk they would be. As for satellite imagery, lenders can analyze images of a parking lot to see how much foot traffic a business gets. If the parking lot is usually filled up, it means it’s likely doing well – and vice versa.
There’s certainly no lack of data available these days. It’s being generated at a record pace and “will grow from 33 ZB in 2018 to 175 ZB by 2025.” However, the majority of business owners are failing to fully harness all of the information that’s available.
Understanding the web data integration process and utilizing the right tools can put an end to this problem and ensure SMEs properly put data to use. It’s just a matter of knowing how it fits into a particular industry and making use of the key features.
About the Author
Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo! News and Influencive. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program. In his spare time, he enjoys dabbling in code. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.
Sign up for the free insideBIGDATA newsletter.