Data has emerged as a fuel to power business operations. Data extraction is a crucial task to achieve market insights and gain an edge over competitors. Efficient data can help you derive flawless analysis that can lead to operations and customer engagement. Data extraction helps improve consumer services and paves the way for formulating focused marketing strategies.
But what should be your organization’s preferred method of data extraction? Let’s clear the confusion on choosing data extraction services over web scraping tools.
Role of Data extraction in Business Operations
Businesses need data about their customers to strategize, improve services/products and expand. For this purpose, they gather data from a variety of unstructured sources. It can be websites, documents, client databases, contact forms, or bills.
Data extraction is the process of collecting data from multiple sources. This data is processed by refining, standardization, and verification to create a ready-to-use database. When your business is backed by a strong database of well-formatted data, it becomes easier to formulate strategies. Data extraction services improve a business’s overall productivity. It gives you insights into industry trends and consumer behavior.
A business can build efficient customer engagement and service based on a reliable database. They deal with large amounts of unstructured data and are available in various forms at different locations. Collecting this information through data extraction helps you evaluate customer behavior, create buyer’s personas and improve your overall operations.
Methods of Data Extraction
To create a database for business analysis and operations, ETL (extract, transform, load) and ELT (extract, load, transform) are the two methods generally followed for data integration. Here extract refers to data extraction, which is the first step in both methods.
Data extraction can be achieved with the help of the following methods:
- Web Scraping Tools
Businesses with low data requirements or from non-technical backgrounds generally use web scraping tools. They are in the form of web browser extensions or plug-ins, or installable software applications.
Subscriptions of these tools can be brought as per requirement. They are cost-effective and quick to extract data from websites. They usually come with free trial plans.
- Data Extraction Services
It is the method of outsourcing your web data extraction services to a professional agency. Enterprises can discuss their data needs and goals with these agencies and engage them for a feasible cost. These service providers are experienced in managing data processing for different industries, they are equipped with the necessary infrastructure and resources. Organizations can simply outsource data extraction services to these companies and focus on core competencies.
Disadvantages of Web Scraping Tools
Business organizations often opt for web scraping tools, concluding it as an easier and cheaper option to extract small amounts of data. But, if the tool fails in helping you achieve a strong database to lead business operations, it is a waste of resources. Thereby, knowledge of the following disadvantages will help you make an informed choice.
- Learn and Execute
You need to practice these tools for perfection, even if they don’t require coding knowledge. It may take a lot of time too. A basic understanding of technicalities like XPath, HTML, and AJAX is a prerequisite. It is one of the major disadvantages of using extraction tools.
- Website Structure Update
Website designers keep updating the design and structure. While these changes are large to meet UI challenges, they also protect against scraping. As your tool is set according to an old layout, any change might result in wrong data. Therefore, in case you are using data extraction tools, synchronizing your crawlers as per a website’s updated design is challenging.
- Feasible for Small Data Volume
Another drawback of the extraction tool is its capacity to collect small volumes of data. It’s a challenge for businesses like eCommerce, which require millions of lines of regular data feeds. While some cloud-based scrapers are able to gather large volumes of data, many other tools are incapable of extracting millions of records. This has led eCommerce businesses to engage in web data extraction services.
- Not for a Complex Website
You might have come across websites that use AJAX-like dynamic elements or load more buttons to read through the content. For instance, Twitter uses infinite scrolling for better UI. In such cases, organizations need advanced scraping tools. Utilizing simple extraction tools will help capture data through simple websites that use numbered navigation.
- Can Lead to an IP Ban
Advanced websites use IP detection techniques like captcha verification. Scraping data extensively from such websites might sound an alarm and lead to a ban on your IP address. It will seize you from further data scraping on the respective website. So, to efficiently use an extraction tool, make sure it works as human browsing does. This is a major operational challenge of using these tools.
- One Tool is Not Applicable for All
While some extraction tools work well for texts and URLs, other advanced tools can be used to extract data through source codes. Many of these tools cannot fetch data from pdf files, they need other tools like Smallpdf or PDFelements. Therefore it’s difficult to gather different kinds of data and manage various scraping tools.
- May Lead to Legal Penalties
Scraping private information through automated tools is considered illegal. You can only scrape data that is publicly available. Websites like Linkedin and Facebook have marked clear privacy guidelines on the issue. So, make sure you don’t cross the line.
How Hiring Data Extraction Services is Beneficial
- Provides Access to Relevant Data
Outsourcing data extraction services costs you less than investing in a web scraping tool and hiring its expert. Moreover, it saves your time, which can be utilized for the analysis of data and the creation of subsequent strategies.
- Accurate Results
Since DIY tools for scraping work on a set format, their results may vary according to the website. Any business that uses such tools will be required to scrutinize the data and process it before putting it to use. Whereas data extraction services provide you with accurate data that is readily available for usage.
- Quick Service
When you engage a reputed service provider equipped with advanced infrastructure, it will provide quicker results. However, using web crawlers gives slower results due to the complexity of the process. It requires more time and effort too.
- Abide by the Scraping Policy
Professional web data extraction services protect you from policy violations, IP bans, and economic penalties. These experts know how to deal with scraping policies of multifaceted websites, they follow every regulation and keep you safe from legal troubles.
- Data Cleansing
Data collected through web scraping tools needs formatting and standardization before it can be utilized for business operations. You will require extra tools for cleaning this data. Whereas data extraction services provide you with clean and formatted data that can be put to use straight away.
- Saves Time for Analysis
Engaging an efficient data extraction service provider saves your time and effort. You can use this time in the analysis of the data. It also helps you focus on formulating strategies and managing operations as per the data analysis.
Web scraping is a complex process, crucial to strengthen your business database. Trying to automate it might result in accumulating inefficient data, even penalizations in the worst case. If you are dealing with websites that are tough to scrape from, outsourcing data extraction services will be an intelligent choice. It will save you from the loss of resources, capital, and time.