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Web data collection & digital transformation: key takeaways for putting data to work

An abstract image of a man controlling various IT applications from a single control panel.
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The term "digital transformation" has a wide range of meanings. At its most basic level, digital transformation can be thought of as the transfer of processes, activities, and tools from an offline to a digital environment. This can be anything from setting up a mobile application, a website or digitally re-formatting an entire enterprise. Simple, right? Not quite.

Data consumption and use has evolved dramatically over time, assisting in the development of new business models, and promoting a customer-centric approach to transformation. We now live in a hyperconnected ecosystem where every interaction results in massive datasets being generated. This publicly available data is intrinsically tied to the act of digital transformation and is an essential part in guiding business insights, development, and decision-making.

According to recent Vanson Bourne research, 64% of organisations that rely on alternative data sources when building business strategies say that alternative data impacts their investing strategy, and 59% say it impacts their customer experience strategy. Similar research from Forrester points at the impact of data where firms make fewer than 50% of their decisions based on quantitative information as opposed to gut feeling, experience, or opinion. It’s evident that web data and its many alternative data subsets are  key to helping enterprises digitally transform, make informed decisions, and improve their business reasoning.

Here are some key takeaways for how web data collection impacts digital transformation and how enterprises can make the most out of it.

A brick-and-mortar business is not an option anymore, at any level

The crude reality is that the COVID-19 pandemic has re-written the rules of business. Brick-and-mortar companies realise that there is no going back to “how it was” anytime soon, with more and more customers shifting online. We are approaching a new era given how swiftly digital transformation has turbocharged current business models, propelling us into a market controlled by new rules, goals, and expectations.

However, going fully online is not an easy task. Companies out there need to make use of web-based publicly available data to get further insights into their competitors, market movements, consumer behaviour and so on. When using the internet, public data gathering gives you the transparency needed. It enables all market participants to compete openly by supplying them with accurate market research data. It’s this raw data that aids those within the ecommerce, real estate and retail sectors, adapt to ongoing shifts in trends and make accurate business decisions going forward.

Not only does it help save overall business costs, but it can also bring in good business if used efficiently. We live in a real-time economy, and data is the new water fueling it. The collection of public web data has become the main resource for fast and high-performance decision-making, profit, and innovation.

Understanding the most impactful data – what, how, where, and why

Recent reports suggest that more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is generated every day. Enterprises looking to digitally transform their operations require data, but only certain types of it and certainly not all of it. Even though data is the new water, you can drown by having too much of it. It's crucial to make sure that only the most critical data is gathered to guarantee accurate decision-making that enables real business growth.

One way to ensure accuracy is to first establish the type of data needed to achieve your goal, e.g., re-defining each customer's journey and using that real-time data in your analysis. Then you must establish how much data is needed. The best way to do this is to start relatively small and then to scale up in the future if needed. For example, a retailer may look at the top ten brand searches within a particular European region, and only within a certain holiday period, to decide on the next best items to offer on sale.

Transforming these raw data sets into usable insights will feed and enrich your decision-making. However, be aware that this is a complex step-by-step process that requires forward-thinking technology. There is such a thing as data obesity. Beware.

Data is complex

The main problem with this massive web-based database is that not much of it is visible or open to all, as the Internet's architects intended. Organisations are often blocked by competitors in the process of retrieving data, or they encounter difficulties accessing data in every region they are looking to target globally. This is where companies like Bright Data have stepped in. We have provided a transparent means for all organisations to freely access web data, allowing them to tap into the most relevant information and transform it into insight-gold data, swiftly and simply.

In addition to that, it’s worth remembering that data itself is complex. It’s raw, unstructured, messy and there’s lots of it! That is a huge undertaking for any web data collection company that has to deploy certain API technologies and processes to collect it. An API-first platform is needed to automate data delivery, reduce friction in team collaboration and remove manual tasks associated with databases, infrastructure, and security management.

As such, it’s critical for organisations to invest in a web data platform that can provide them with the data they require on a constant basis. Organisations can then eliminate the entire guesswork process from their decision-making and rely on the one source that, without fail, will always show them their true reality: the World Wide Web.

How easy can they use public data to reach that certainty? That depends on the technology they use and its quality.