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Data generated by companies and consumers is set to grow exponentially over the next few years to 175 zettabytes, according to some estimates. These vast volumes of data represent value, particularly for businesses that can leverage them. This is because they contain insights into market trends (existing and emerging), consumer behavior, and key predictors of the future. Organizations, therefore, must find ways to gain value from the data, and this all starts with data collection.
What Is Data Extraction?
As the name suggests, data extraction is the process of collecting various types of data from different sources. These sources include data-oriented software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms, databases, and websites. When the data is collected from websites, the process of harnessing this data is known as web scraping, web harvesting, or web data extraction.
The data, once collected, can be used in disparate ways. For instance, you can deploy it in data mining, which uses mathematical and scientific methods to uncover trends and patterns. You can also use it in data analysis, which helps find useful information from the collected data.
Though data is important to every business, some companies have specialized in data mining and analytics. They, therefore, collect data, uncover valuable patterns and trends, and reveal useful information before selling their findings to other businesses. These companies also use the collected data, uncovered patterns, and trends to train machine learning and artificial intelligence products. This training process creates autonomous solutions that can perform these tasks without human intervention.
Who Undertakes Data Extraction?
The companies that conduct data extraction include:
- Software companies: their SaaS products help clients deal with big data, forecast future outcomes, and extract actionable insights. These solutions range from content analysis and data visualization software to marketing intelligence tools and products.
- Consulting companies: these companies rely on the data extracted to train their experts in big data analytics and methodologies. They then outsource this expertise to other organizations in need of the services.
- Other companies: generally, non-data-oriented companies also undertake data extraction, although not on a grand scale. This data extraction enables them to undertake market research, understand their consumers, and conduct search engine optimization (SEO) research.
Benefits Of Data Extraction
Data extraction offers the following benefits:
- It gives SaaS and consulting companies a sellable product
- Data extraction provides companies with insights into the competition, including the number of competitors, their products, and the prices
- Data collection oriented toward SEO keywords enables companies to come up with better SEO strategies
- It allows businesses to gain consumer insights from reviews and feedback
- It is useful in safeguarding a brand’s reputation (through monitoring mentions on news sites and social media platforms)
- Aggregator sites such as job and travel fare aggregation providers rely on data collection to uncover data on new job postings and ticket prices, respectively
- Ad verification: companies use data extraction to establish whether their ad partners are displaying their ads in the proper format and on appropriate channels; this prevents fraud
Popular Data Extraction Tools
There are different data extraction tools that businesses can use to collect data from disparate sources, including:
- Web scraping tools
- Email parsing solutions
- Document parsing products
- Data collection software
Web Scraping Tools
As stated, web scraping refers to the collection of publicly available data from websites. Specifically, it involves the harnessing of data from HTML and XML. Businesses and individuals collect web data using a tool known as a web scraper. There are different types of web scrapers, including dedicated web scraping software and scraper APIs. A scraper API allows you to interact with a provider’s data extractor without having to install it directly on your computer. Instead, all you have to do is use an API terminal or create an application that can communicate with the scraper API. Check this Oxylabs page to learn more about a scraper API and its use cases.
Email Parsing Solutions
An email parser can extract data from emails. It converts the data from an unstructured or prose form to a structured format that companies can later analyze.
Document Parsing Products
A document parser can extract data from documents, including PDFs and Word documents. In addition to the data collection aspect, these products convert the data into a structured format that they store in a different location. Data parsers eliminate the tedious task of manual data entry, preventing errors that can arise from human intervention.
Data Collection Software
SaaS companies develop and sell data extractor software. These tools are designed to collect data from SaaS applications and databases. They can then be integrated into cloud storage devices, other SaaS apps, and data warehouses.
Data extraction is useful for businesses. It enables service providers to offer SaaS solutions. It also equips consulting firms with the expertise to serve their clientele. At the same time, data extraction allows businesses to gain competitive advantages in myriad ways, including uncovering consumer insights. These organizations can collect the data using different tools, including a web scraper, an email parser, a document parser, and dedicated data collection software.
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