What is data scraping and how is it used?

Discover the Opportunity for Insight, Growth, and Success

Data Scraping: Types, Uses, and Significance

Data holds valuable insights and growth opportunities for businesses. Researching clients and partners is essential for profitable deals. Across industries, data scraping and web scraping are used extensively for market research. In the real estate sector, scraping listings is a common practice (read Feb 3, 2022). Data scraping is a potent tool for automating business processes, leading to increased productivity and success. Data scraping provides tools for extracting, analyzing, and integrating data efficiently. It can extract data without the need for an API, making it a cost-effective solution. It replaces manual, time-consuming tasks, automating data-gathering for precise and efficient analysis.

What Does it Mean to Scrape Data?

Data scraping, also known as data extraction, is a technique that allows the automatic collection, analysis, and integration of data from websites, databases, and enterprise applications without an API. It is a cost-effective alternative to manual data entry that helps automate data collection of large amounts of relevant information such as product reviews, contact information, social media posts, and web content, for use within your company. Custom software collects and exports data into a format that is easily accessible and integrated with your company's workflow. Data scraping software can export information into spreadsheets, QuickBooks, documents, and websites.

Data scraping can be a valuable tool for businesses, generating significant revenue and providing a competitive advantage. It's used by industries from sports to government to corporations. Off-the-shelf and custom cloud-based data scrapers are available for businesses to choose from. The key is to understand the options and choose the right approach for your business needs.

Cloud-Based Programs for Web and Data Scraping: An Overview

Data scraping can be accomplished through programs such as Python, Ruby, or PHP when APIs from websites are not available. This enables easy access to data from pdfs and various websites for business, research, or development purposes. Historically, this technique was known by various names like bots, crawlers, spiders, and harvesters.

Websites that use web scraping tools behind-the-scenes to gather data and present it to their users:

Some examples of screen scraping software include:

  • UiPath - has a turnkey scraping tool that can extract anything that you can see in a web browser

  • Jacada - Jacada Integration and Automation (JIA), is a data integration, desktop automation, and Windows/web app screen scraping tool

  • Macro Scheduler - Powerful screen text capture, OCR functions, and multiple tools

Data scraping has gained a negative reputation for being used for illegal purposes such as copyright infringement, competitor pricing automation, email address harvesting for scams, and website hacking for information theft.  To use a data scraping system ethically for your business, it's important to follow laws and regulations. Consult experts such as The SilverLogic to ensure compliance.


Differentiating Between the Two Types of Data Scraping

Web Scraping

Web scraping is comprehensive, customizable, and effective at collecting various types of modern web data, catering to your company's intelligent business decisions. It can assist businesses in practices like price comparison, market and competitor research, contact scraping (email and contact info), weather or currency data monitoring, marketing (content creation, SEO, metadata, etc.), decision-making, and planning. Web scraping has been in use since the 2000s and has been instrumental in data analysis, information acquisition, and research. It also played a pivotal role in the development of search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo! through the use of "Web Crawlers."

Web scraping is utilized by a wide range of industries, including:

  • Search Engines - Extract relevant information from websites for display in search results
  • Sports - Tracking sports for stats, fantasy standings, bets, and more
  • Government - Monitor inflation, currency rates, or news for specific countries
  • Real Estate - Track housing market prices, properties, rentals, competitor comparisons, and more
  • Marketing - Track social media sentiment, SEO, metadata, content scraping, keywords, ad copy, potential influencers, and more
  • Pricing - Compare ticket prices, airline fares, hotel rates, festival costs, products, and services for the best deals

Screen Scraping

Screen scraping is different from web scraping in that it extracts data by analyzing visual interfaces directly from the screen, rather than downloading and parsing web sources. It’s an important tool for companies that need to preserve data for long periods. Data can be extracted  without accessing source code, especially for older CRM systems lacking built-in APIs.  It's useful for application-based analytics and research and for extracting data from outdated systems and is valuable for migrations as it accurately exports legacy data. It's a powerful tool to save time and effort in data migration and record-keeping.. A study found the cost of missed opportunities and expenses due to data trapped in legacy systems was nearly $140 billion.

Screen scraping can be used to assist businesses in various processes, including:

  • Using standard APIs to analyze screen contents
  • System API interception to monitor (catch) how data reaches the screen
  • Custom mirror driver or accessibility driver
  • Using Optical character recognition (OCR)

Web scraping is used by many industries in daily business operations, including:

  • Crucial Legacy Systems: Highly accurate and complete migration of all system data
  • Governments: Public and government records
  • Health Care Providers: Patient health records
  • Banks: Legal documents, account information, and transaction records
  • Energy & Mining: Crucial legacy systems data, records, approvals, etc.
  • Corporations & Multi-Nationals:  Enterprise data from ERP, CRM, SCM, and other systems

Uncovering the Capabilities of Data Scraping

Web scraping is a valuable business automation tool for data collection, supporting marketing, content creation, and decision-making. It can efficiently gather pricing information, track trends, and provide data for informed business decisions helping companies stay ahead of their competition. Businesses can respond quickly to changes in competitor pricing strategies and make data-driven decisions.

Elevate Your Business with Web Scraping Expertise

If you are considering upgrading your legacy systems or learning how to harness the power of web or content scraping for your business, please do not hesitate to contact us at The SilverLogic for a consultation. Our team of experts will be happy to discuss how this technology can positively impact your business, aiding its growth and success.

Our award-winning and highly skilled team of software engineers and experts is dedicated to providing customer-centric solutions for your e-commerce online business or enterprise. With a focus on simplifying the process, we can design and implement a custom solution, including upgrading your system or building a custom scraping tool for web development, data migration, marketing, or any other application - even a Neo4j-powered political data tool. Since 2012, we have been helping clients navigate the questions of investing in tech solutions and providing a range of services and solutions to collaboratively create their own custom-made competitive advantage.

Looking for a shorter article? Check out our beginner's guide to data extraction.

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