Click to learn more about author Julius Cerniauskas.
The digital universe is expanding fast. According to a SINTEF study conducted back in 2013, 90 percent of all the world’s data was generated from 2011 to 2012. By 2020, the number of data bits created globally was expected to reach 44 zettabytes, as predicted by the World Economic Forum. To put it into perspective, that is 40 times more bits of data than the number of stars in the observable universe. Welcome to the age of information!
The business scene has been embracing these changes with increasing enthusiasm. The popular phrase “Data is the new oil” has been evoked by massively increasing revenues from big data and business analytics sectors. In 2018 alone, the industry brought in around $169 billion, with predictions to reach $189 billion in 2019, as International Data Corporation reports. The forecast for the future is also hinting at the growth of big data usage, with expected revenue of $274 billion in 2022, which is a staggering 62 percent increase from 2018 revenue.
Dealing with Information Overload
As a person who has been leading a company of information technology solutions for nearly six years, I have witnessed that not all businesses embrace the power of Data Science. Dealing with unprecedented amounts of information can lead to paralysis through analysis, which results in struggles to integrate cost-efficient automation processes in everyday business practices.
And indeed, being able to navigate entire oceans of data and distinguish what is relevant for a particular business goal is not an easy task, even for the most experienced technology gurus. For this reason, this article is dedicated to everyone determined to base their strategic business decisions on reliable data and are seeking more guidance on the matter.
We All Must Become Data Realists
3.8 million searches on Google, 4.5 million views on Youtube, 87,500 tweets, 1 million dollars spent on e-commerce sites — that’s just one minute on the internet in 2019.
There are two rules on how not to get swept away by the information flood. First, companies must shift their attitude from knowing to learning. And second, before diving headfirst into big data, it is essential to determine what type of information is valuable for each individual goal. To understand how to extract and draw meaningful conclusions from the data pool, we must look at this through the eyes of a data scientist who seeks to discover potential solutions and business opportunities by identifying patterns, trends, and correlations between the data points.
The Path to the “Right” Data
Before data gathering, analysis, or comparisons can even start, there is an absolute need to make sure that the methods and tools of information extraction are impeccable. The biggest hurdle here is gathering complete and accurate data. More information on data extraction techniques will be explored below.
Once the trusted extraction techniques are set in place, the process of collecting, cleaning, and interpreting the data can begin. Ideally, the data scientist locates the common patterns, which can lead to valuable conclusions. Then, communications specialists translate the dataset to visualizations or texts, understandable even for non-tech company stakeholders. If it is done well, the extracted information provides a full picture of common trends and real-time changes in the industry, allowing you to devise a strong business strategy.
What Data Can You Benefit from Right Now?
Being able to tap into vast amounts of publicly available data has led to many brands automating their market research processes and gaining visibility, making use of some of the many advantages this data can bring. Depending on your company’s strategic direction and business goals, you can boost your business decision-making process by gaining insights on the following:
1. SEO Rankings
2. Client Needs and Feedback
3. Pricing Change Monitoring of Certain Products and Services
4. Competitor Behaviors
What Can We Learn from the Big Brands?
To understand how to use big data effectively, let’s look at how the leading brands are using it to strengthen their position in the market.
Case 1: Automating Data Gathering Processes
It is hard to believe that some companies still hold on to outdated data gathering methods, going through all the trouble of collecting and aggregating the needed information by hand. This situation is similar to someone choosing to get drinking water from a faraway well, dragging heavy buckets on the way instead of simply using a tap. Automizing data gathering processes can save long hours of manual labor spent on researching information, reduce labor costs, and at the same time, increase the quality of the process itself.
Case 2: Getting Customers to Choose You and Stay with You
Using data insights is key to building a happy client base. And the web is a place to see what people actually think and want. Getting your hands on the behavioral statistics online and having a full grasp of the feedback that is being left across all public forums is powerful. It is no secret that a well-understood client is a loyal client, and acting upon these behavioral dynamics will lead to well-received communications approaches and the release of desired products and services.
Case 3: Marketing That Works
The grim fact for marketers worldwide is that brands are losing millions of dollars on ineffective advertising campaigns every year. More often than not, it is a result of incomplete market research, which involves gaining essential information such as online activity trends and dynamic changes in customer behavior. A thorough analysis allows marketers to launch more personalized campaigns to target and engage customers in a manner that is appreciated. In turn, this results in better returns on marketing investments.
Case 4: Inspiration for Innovation
Gone are the days when businesses based their product strategy on personal experience or intuition. Companies don’t have to guess what works and what doesn’t anymore. Data will let you know exactly what the market is thirsty for. For this reason, data scientists have become a trusted source of inspiration for product development and innovation. When information sets on a client’s ever-changing needs and desires are used as a base for product design, sales are impacted positively.
Get the “Right” Data
As mentioned above, the key to gaining meaningful data insights is relying on accurate and complete information. There are a few methodologies available for retrieving publicly available data from the internet. The most common process leading companies employ is web crawling, also known as web scraping.
Instead of partaking in the mundane tasks of manual data extraction, web scraping employs intricate automation processes to extract millions of data points from the internet.
Considering all the advantages that web-scraping offers, it comes as no surprise that this practice is growing in popularity, and marketing is not the only department reaping the benefits. For instance, cybersecurity, retail, and travel industries, among others, have been capitalizing on the advantages that data can offer.
Future of Information Technology
It is exciting to witness everyday companies and individuals finding more ways to facilitate their lives and improve their business by employing modern technologies. And the reason why the information technology industry is on the rise is due to its unfailing adaptability to the quickly changing needs of our society.
This pattern is evident with web scraping as well. It is continually evolving, as industry leaders come up with more and more ways to utilize big data to reach their business goals. There are still unexplored ways web crawling can aid companies across the globe to automate their processes and gain valuable insights. It just depends on the curiosity and ambition of businesses.