Three online data collection tips guaranteed to improve your business decision-making

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Itamar is currently a director of product management at Bright Data, a position he has held since January 2019. Previously, he was with ClassBoost and Bynet Software Systems.

Given current global economic turbulence, business leaders can feel like they’re building on quicksand. Rapidly changing consumer demands, intermittent lockdowns and fluctuating manufacturing and transportation costs are just some of the challenges they’re facing.

To remain competitive, it’s more important than ever for businesses to predict trends and anticipate market shifts. Data is the secret ingredient which enables them to do this with accuracy. And many are turning to the world’s largest database – the Internet – to find it. Here are three top tips for collecting publicly available online data to improve your business decision-making.

Precision pays dividends

More than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created daily – much of which ends up online. The Internet is home to a vast quantity of data, but thanks to geofencing, corporate blockades and other obstacles, not all of it is available for everyone to access on an equal basis. In addition, businesses – including e-commerce players, finance, travel, and security firms – are increasingly operating inside a real-time economy where crucial decisions rely on a stream of real-time data.

This is where organisations like ours have stepped in. Bright Data has created a transparent way to enable businesses to openly access publicly available online data. Our tools enable them to obtain the data they need and transform it into actionable insights. Whether it be customer information, pricing details or competitive intelligence, leaders can now make better decisions underpinned by data.

However, it’s not a case of gathering all the data you possibly can. There is simply too much raw data out there for businesses to process. Instead, decision makers must take a more focused approach to make sure they don’t bite off more than they can chew. One way to ensure accuracy is to first establish the type of data needed to achieve a specific business goal. This might be redefining your customer journey or ensuring that your pricing or offering is competitive. Then, businesses must establish how much data is needed. The best way to do this is to start relatively small, then test and validate before scaling up in the future, if required.

Low-code is the way forward

The term ‘low-code’ refers to ‘low-code development’. In layman’s terms, this means developing an app or software through a visual user interface rather than through coding and programming. In other words, it’s perfect for businesses that lack internal coding resources but want to quickly digitise their operations to work more efficiently, deliver products faster, connect better with customers, and save on development costs.

Low-code solutions are revolutionising businesses’ capacities to collect online data. In the past, organisations that took this task seriously typically employed a whole team whose role was to navigate constantly changing websites, avoid blockades, filter out misleading information, and integrate data into an existing business infrastructure. Nowadays, however, low-code solutions mean this task can be handled by a smaller number of people without the same level of in-depth technical skills.

Replacing gut feelings with data-driven insights

During the past year, many businesses have seen the value of publicly available online data. It’s one of few information sources that’s fast and flexible enough to provide a reliable market, industry, or consumer-based snapshot. Together with Vanson Bourne, Bright Data conducted a survey which revealed just how many organisations rely on collecting online data to inform decision-making. For instance, one in four financial services professionals in the UK and US it daily. This is a huge testament to the role that online data plays, even in one of the most traditional market sectors, and demonstrates that organisations are now relying on more accurate information instead of ‘gut’ feelings.

We live in an era where data represents power. It enables companies to improve their products and offerings, and customers to receive the best available options. It drives real-time markets, moving spending power and resources from country to country, thus improving our quality of life.

But simply gathering raw data is not enough. The data itself needs to have a purpose, to be reliable and relevant to the task; it needs context, and in the end, it needs to be used to drive open-market competition, vital research and even to save lives. Plus, it’s crucial for businesses to maintain a safe ecosystem where it’s carefully and transparently collected and utilised. This has clearly become a critical necessity.

By harnessing the power of data, organisations can now move faster in our quickly shifting real-time economy that’s based on real-time data. To put it simply, they can eliminate guesswork from their decision-making processes, and rely on a single source of truth – the World Wide Web. But keep in mind that success depends on the type of technology they use, its quality and validation process.

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