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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

How to use Social Media Scraping to be your Competitors’ Nightmare

How to use Social Media Scraping to be your Competitors’ Nightmare

Big data and competitive intelligence have been in the limelight for quite some time now. The almost magical power of big data to help a company make just the right decisions have been talked about a lot. When it comes to big data, the kind of benefits that a business can get totally depends upon the sources they acquire it from. Social media is one of the best sources from where you can get data that helps your business in a multitude of ways. Now that every business is deep rooted on the internet, social media data becomes all the more relevant and crucial. Here is how you can use data scraped from social media sites to get an edge in the competition.

Keeping watch on your competitors

Social media is the best place to watch your competitors’ activity and take counter initiatives to keep up or take over them. If you want to know what your competitors are up to, a social media scraping setup for scraping the posts that mention your competitors’ brand/product names can do the trick. This can also be used to learn a thing or two from their activities on social media so that you can take respective measures to stay ahead of them. For example, you could know if your competitor is running a special promotional offer at the moment and come up with something better than theirs to keep up. This can do wonders if you are in a highly competitive industry like Ecommerce where the competition is intense. If you are not using some help from web scraping technology to keep a close watch on your competitors, you could easily get left over in this fast-paced business scene.

Solving customer issues at the earliest

Customers are vocal about their experience with different products and services on social media sites these days. If you have a customer whose issue was left unsolved, there is a good chance that he/she will take it to the social media to vent the frustration. Watching out for such instances and giving them prompt support should be something you should do if you want to retain these customers and stop them from ruining your brand’s image. By scraping social media sites for posts that mention your product/service, you can easily find out if there are such grievances from customers. This can make sure to an extent that you don’t let unhappy customers stay that way, which eventually hurts your business in the long run. Customers can make or break your company, so using social media scraping to serve the customers better can help you succeed eventually.

Sentiment analysis

Social media data can play a good job at helping you understand user sentiments. With the help of social media scraping, a business can get the big picture about general perception of their brand by their users. This can go a long way since this level of feedback can help you fix unnoticed issues with your company and service quickly. By rectifying them, you can make your brand more appealing to the customers. Sentiment analysis will provide you with the opportunity to transform your business into how customers want it to be. Social media scraping is the one and only way to have access to this user sentiment data which can help you optimize your business for the customers.

Web crawling for social media data

When social media data possess so much value to businesses, it makes sense to look for efficient ways to gather and use this data. Manually scrolling through millions of tweets doesn’t make sense, this is why you should use social media scraping to aggregate the relevant data for your business. Besides, web scraping technologies make it possible to handle huge amounts of data with ease. Since the size of data is huge when it comes to business related requirements, web scraping is the only scalable solution worth considering. To make things even simpler, there are reliable web scraping solutions that offer social media scraping services for brand monitoring.

Bottom line

Since social media has become an integral part of online businesses, the data available on these sites possess immense value to companies in every industry. Social media scraping can be used for brand monitoring and gaining competitive intelligence that can be used to optimize your business model for maximum effectiveness. This will in turn make your company stand out from the competition and the added advantage of insights gained from social media data will help you to take over your competitors.

Source: https://www.promptcloud.com/blog/social-media-scraping-for-competitive-intelligence

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Business Intelligence & Data Warehousing in a Business Perspective

Business Intelligence & Data Warehousing in a Business Perspective

Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence has become a very important activity in the business arena irrespective of the domain due to the fact that managers need to analyze comprehensively in order to face the challenges.

Data sourcing, data analysing, extracting the correct information for a given criteria, assessing the risks and finally supporting the decision making process are the main components of BI.

In a business perspective, core stakeholders need to be well aware of all the above stages and be crystal clear on expectations. The person, who is being assigned with the role of Business Analyst (BA) for the BI initiative either from the BI solution providers' side or the company itself, needs to take the full responsibility on assuring that all the above steps are correctly being carried out, in a way that it would ultimately give the business the expected leverage. The management, who will be the users of the BI solution, and the business stakeholders, need to communicate with the BA correctly and elaborately on their expectations and help him throughout the process.

Data sourcing is an initial yet crucial step that would have a direct impact on the system where extracting information from multiple sources of data has to be carried out. The data may be on text documents such as memos, reports, email messages, and it may be on the formats such as photographs, images, sounds, and they can be on more computer oriented sources like databases, formatted tables, web pages and URL lists. The key to data sourcing is to obtain the information in electronic form. Therefore, typically scanners, digital cameras, database queries, web searches, computer file access etc, would play significant roles. In a business perspective, emphasis should be placed on the identification of the correct relevant data sources, the granularity of the data to be extracted, possibility of data being extracted from identified sources and the confirmation that only correct and accurate data is extracted and passed on to the data analysis stage of the BI process.

Business oriented stake holders guided by the BA need to put in lot of thought during the analyzing stage as well, which is the second phase. Synthesizing useful knowledge from collections of data should be done in an analytical way using the in-depth business knowledge whilst estimating current trends, integrating and summarizing disparate information, validating models of understanding, and predicting missing information or future trends. This process of data analysis is also called data mining or knowledge discovery. Probability theory, statistical analysis methods, operational research and artificial intelligence are the tools to be used within this stage. It is not expected that business oriented stake holders (including the BA) are experts of all the above theoretical concepts and application methodologies, but they need to be able to guide the relevant resources in order to achieve the ultimate expectations of BI, which they know best.

Identifying relevant criteria, conditions and parameters of report generation is solely based on business requirements, which need to be well communicated by the users and correctly captured by the BA. Ultimately, correct decision support will be facilitated through the BI initiative and it aims to provide warnings on important events, such as takeovers, market changes, and poor staff performance, so that preventative steps could be taken. It seeks to help analyze and make better business decisions, to improve sales or customer satisfaction or staff morale. It presents the information that manager's need, as and when they need it.

In a business sense, BI should go several steps forward bypassing the mere conventional reporting, which should explain "what has happened?" through baseline metrics. The value addition will be higher if it can produce descriptive metrics, which will explain "why has it happened?" and the value added to the business will be much higher if predictive metrics could be provided to explain "what will happen?" Therefore, when providing a BI solution, it is important to think in these additional value adding lines.

Data warehousing

In the context of BI, data warehousing (DW) is also a critical resource to be implemented to maximize the effectiveness of the BI process. BI and DW are two terminologies that go in line. It has come to a level where a true BI system is ineffective without a powerful DW, in order to understand the reality behind this statement, it's important to have an insight in to what DW really is.

A data warehouse is one large data store for the business in concern which has integrated, time variant, non volatile collection of data in support of management's decision making process. It will mainly have transactional data which would facilitate effective querying, analyzing and report generation, which in turn would give the management the required level of information for the decision making.

The reasons to have BI together with DW

At this point, it should be made clear why a BI tool is more effective with a powerful DW. To query, analyze and generate worthy reports, the systems should have information available. Importantly, transactional information such as sales data, human resources data etc. are available normally in different applications of the enterprise, which would obviously be physically held in different databases. Therefore, data is not at one particular place, hence making it very difficult to generate intelligent information.

The level of reports expected today, are not merely independent for each department, but managers today want to analyze data and relationships across the enterprise so that their BI process is effective. Therefore, having data coming from all the sources to one location in the form of a data warehouse is crucial for the success of the BI initiative. In a business viewpoint, this message should be passed and sold to the managements of enterprises so that they understand the value of the investment. Once invested, its gains could be achieved over several years, in turn marking a high ROI.

Investment costs for a DW in the short term may look quite high, but it's important to re-iterate that the gains are much higher and it will span over many years to come. It also reduces future development cost since with the DW any requested report or view could be easily facilitated. However, it is important to find the right business sponsor for the project. He or she needs to communicate regularly with executives to ensure that they understand the value of what's being built. Business sponsors need to be decisive, take an enterprise-wide perspective and have the authority to enforce their decisions.


Implementation of a DW itself overlaps with some phases of the above explained BI process and it's important to note that in a process standpoint, DW falls in to the first few phases of the entire BI initiative. Gaining highly valuable information out of DW is the latter part of the BI process. This can be done in many ways. DW can be used as the data repository of application servers that run decision support systems, management Information Systems, Expert systems etc., through them, intelligent information could be achieved.

But one of the latest strategies is to build cubes out of the DW and allow users to analyze data in multiple dimensions, and also provide with powerful analytical supporting such as drill down information in to granular levels. Cube is a concept that is different to the traditional relational 2-dimensional tabular view, and it has multiple dimensions, allowing a manager to analyze data based on multiple factors, and not just two factors. On the other hand, it allows the user to select whatever the dimension he wish to choose for analyzing purposes and not be limited by one fixed view of data, which is called as slice & dice in DW terminology.

BI for a serious enterprise is not just a phase of a computerization process, but it is one of the major strategies behind the entire organizational drivers. Therefore management should sit down and build up a BI strategy for the company and identify the information they require in each business direction within the enterprise. Given this, BA needs to analyze the organizational data sources in order to build up the most effective DW which would help the strategized BI process.

High level Ideas on Implementation

At the heart of the data warehousing process is the extract, transform, and load (ETL) process. Implementation of this merely is a technical concern but it's a business concern to make sure it is designed in such a way that it ultimately helps to satisfy the business requirements. This process is responsible for connecting to and extracting data from one or more transactional systems (source systems), transforming it according to the business rules defined through the business objectives, and loading it into the all important data model. It is at this point where data quality should be gained. Of the many responsibilities of the data warehouse, the ETL process represents a significant portion of all the moving parts of the warehousing process.

Creation of a powerful DW depends on the correctness of data modeling, which is the responsibility of the database architect of the project, but BA needs to play a pivotal role providing him with correct data sources, data requirements and most importantly business dimensions. Business Dimensional modeling is a special method used for DW projects and this normally should be carried out by the BA and from there onwards technical experts should take up the work. Dimensions are perspectives specific to a business that could be used for analysis purposes. As an example, for a sales database, the dimensions could include Product, Time, Store, etc. Obviously these dimensions differ from one business to another and hence for each DW initiative those dimensions should be correctly identified and that could be very well done by a person who has experience in the DW domain and understands the business as well, making it apparent that DW BA is the person responsible.

Each of the identified dimensions would be turned in to a dimension table at the implementation phase, and the objective of the above explained ETL process is to fill up these dimension tables, which in turn will be taken to the level of the DW after performing some more database activities based on a strong underlying data model. Implementation details are not important for a business stakeholder but being aware of high level process to this level is important so that they are also on the same pitch as that of the developers and can confirm that developers are actually doing what they are supposed to do and would ultimately deliver what they are supposed to deliver.

Security is also vital in this regard, since this entire effort deals with highly sensitive information and identification of access right to specific people to specific information should be correctly identified and captured at the requirements analysis stage.


There are so many advantages of BI system. More presentation of analytics directly to the customer or supply chain partner will be possible. Customer scores, customer campaigns and new product bundles can all be produced from analytic structures resulting in high customer retention and creation of unique products. More collaboration within information can be achieved from effective BI. Rather than middle managers getting great reports and making their own areas look good, information will be conveyed into other functions and rapidly shared to create collaborative decisions increasing the efficiency and accuracy. The return on human capital will be greatly increased.

Managers at all levels will save their time on data analysis, and hence saving money for the enterprise, as the time of managers is equal to money in a financial perspective. Since powerful BI would enable monitoring internal processes of the enterprises more closely and allow making them more efficient, the overall success of the organization would automatically grow. All these would help to derive a high ROI on BI together with a strong DW. It is a common experience to notice very high ROI figures on such implementations, and it is also important to note that there are many non-measurable gains whilst we consider most of the measurable gains for the ROI calculation. However, at a stage where it is intended to take the management buy-in for the BI initiative, it's important to convert all the non measurable gains in to monitory values as much as possible, for example, saving of managers time can be converted in to a monitory value using his compensation.

The author has knowledge in both Business and IT. Started career as a Software Engineer and moved to work in the business analysis area of a premier US based software company.

Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?Business-Intelligence-and-Data-Warehousing-in-a-Business-Perspective&id=35640

Friday, 12 August 2016

Web Scraping Best Practices

Web Scraping Best Practices

Extracting data from the World Wide Web has several challenges as more webmasters are working day and night to lower cases of scraping and crawling of their data in order to survive in the competitive world. There are various other problems you may face when web scraping and most of them can be avoided by adapting and implementing certain web scraping best practices as discussed in this article.

Have knowledge of the scraping tools

Acquiring adequate knowledge of hurdles that may be encountered during web scraping, you will be able to have a smooth web scraping experience and be on the safe side of the law. Conduct a thorough research on the types of tools you will use for scraping and crawling. Firsthand knowledge on these tools will help you find the data you need without being blocked.

Proper proxy software that acts as the middle party works well when you know how to work around HTTP and HTML protocols. Use tools that can change crawling patterns, URLs and data retrieved even when you are crawling on one domain. This will help you abide to the rules and regulations that come with web scraping activities and escaping any legal issues.
Conduct your scraping activities during off-peak hours

You may opt to extract data during times that less people have access for instance over the weekends, during late night hours, public holidays among others. Visiting a website on several instances to retrieve the same type of data is a waste of bandwidth. It is always advisable to download the entire site content to your computer and thereafter you can access it whenever need arises.
Hide your scrapping activities

There is a thin line between ethical and unethical crawling hence you should completely evade being on the top user list of a particular website. Cover up your track as best as you can by making use of proxy IPs to avoid any legal problems. You may also use multiple IP addresses or VPN services to conceal your scrapping activities and lower chances of landing on a website’s blacklist.

Website owners today are very protective of their data and any other information existing under their unique url. Be keen when going through the terms and conditions indicated by websites as they may consider crawling as an infringement of their privacy. Simple etiquette goes a long way. Your web scraping efforts will be fruitful if the site owner supports the idea of sharing data.
Keep record of your activities

Web scraping involves large amount of data.Due to this you may not always remember each and every piece of information you have acquired, gathering statistics will help you monitor your activities.
Load data in phases

Web scraping demands a lot of patience from you when using the crawlers to get needed information. Take the process in a slow manner by loading data one piece at a time. Several parallel request to the same domain can crush the entire site or retrace the scrapping attempts back to your local machine.

Loading data small bits will save you the hustle of scrapping afresh in case that your activity has been interrupted because you will have already stored part of the data required. You can reduce the loading data on an individual domain through various techniques such as caching pages that you have scrapped to escape redundancy occurrences. Use auto throttling mechanisms to increase the amount of traffic to the website and pause for breaks between requests to prevent getting banned.

Through these few mentioned web scraping best practices you will be able to work around website and gather the data required as per clients’ request without major hurdles along the way. The ultimate goal of every web scraper is to be able to access vital information and at the same time remain on the good side of the law.

Source: http://nocodewebscraping.com/web-scraping-best-practices/

Friday, 5 August 2016

Invest in Data Extraction to Grow Your Business

Invest in Data Extraction to Grow Your Business

Automating your employees’ processes can help you increase productivity while keeping the cost of used resources at a minimum. This can help you focus your time and money in much needed areas of your company so that you can thrive in your industry. Data extraction can help you achieve automation by targeting online data sources (websites, blogs, forums, etc) for information and data that can be useful to your business. By using software rather than your employees, you can oftentimes get more accurate data and more thorough information that people may miss. The software can handle the volume that you need and will deliver the results that you desire to help your company.
See the Power of Data Extraction Online

To see all of the ways that data extraction tools and software can benefit your business, There you can read about the features of the software, practical uses for businesses and also schedule a demo before you buy.

Source: http://www.connotate.com/invest-in-data-extraction-to-grow-your-business/

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Scraping data from LinkedIn

Scraping data from LinkedIn

How to scrape data from LinkedIn public profile for marketing purposes?

You can scrape data from a LinkedIn public profile using data scraper software. LinkedIn data extraction is most beneficial for marketers and most medium size companies rely on LinkedIn for their marketing purpose.

I would recommend you to use "LinkedIn Lead Extractor" software, which helps to quickly scrape public profiles from LinkedIn. With this tool your can scrape profile link, First Name, Last Name, Email, Phone Address, Twitter id, Yahoo messenger id, Skype Id, Google Talk ID, Job Role, Company Name, Address, Country, Connections. This company has built this tool specially for LinkedIn marketers who are not satisfied with their drop ship supplier's digital data.

LinkedIn advance search provides you the targeted customers profiles list with your requirements like country, country, city, company, job title, and much more.

In few weeks you can developed new ways to set-up differently the sales teams and create a much more technologic environment in the strategy department. An internal platform that generated targeted leads can be of a very big help. You can easily execute go to market to any area or city in so much little time compared with some years ago.

Source: http://www.ahmadsoftware.com/blogs/4/scraping-data-from-linkedin.html