The three data sources

For Data itself, there are a lot of different sources that are needed. Based on the company and industry, they differ a lot. However, to create a complex view on your company, it isn’t necessary only to have your own data. There are several other data sources you should consider.

The three data sources

The three data sources

Data you already have

The first data source – data you have – seems to be the easiest. However, it isn’t as easy as you might believe. Bringing your data in order is actually a very difficult task and can’t be achieved that easy. I’ve written several blog posts here about the challenges around data and you can review them. Basically, all of them focus on your internal data sources. I won’t re-state them in detail here, but it is mainly about data governance and access.

Data that you can acquire

The second data source – data you can acquire – is another important aspect. By acquire I basically mean everything that you don’t have to pay to an external party as data provider. You might use surveys (and pay for it as well) or acquire the data from open data platforms. Also, you might collect data from social media or with other kind of crawlers. This data source is very important for you, as you can get great overview and insights into your specific questions.

In the past, I’ve seen a lot of companies utilising the second one and we did a lot on that aspect. For this kind of data, you don’t necessarily have to pay for it – some data sources are free. And if you pay for something, you don’t pay for the data itself but rather for the (semi)-manual way of collecting it. Also here, it differs heavily from industry to industry and what the company is all about. I’ve seen companies collecting data from news sites to get insights into their competition and mentions or simply by scanning social media. A lot is possible with this aspect of data source.

Data you can buy

The last one – data you can buy – is easy to get but very expensive in cash-out terms. There are a lot of data providers selling different kind of data. Often, it is demographic data or data about customers. Different platforms collect data from a large number of online sites and thus track individuals over different sites and their behavior. Such platforms then sell this kind of data to marketing departments with more insights. Also here, you can buy this kind of data from that platforms and thus enrich your own first-party and second-party data. Imagine, you are operating a retail business selling all kind of furniture.

You would probably not know much about your web shop visitors, since they are anonymous until they buy something. With data bought from such kind of data providers, it would now be possible for you to figure out if an anonymous visitor is an outdoor enthusiast. You might adjust your offers to match his or her interest best. Or, you might learn that the person visiting your shop recently bought a countryside house with a garden. You might now adjust your offers to present garden furniture or Barbecue accessories. With this kind of third party data, you can achieve a lot and better understand your customers and your company.

This post is part of the “Big Data for Business” tutorial. In this tutorial, I explain various aspects of handling data right within a company. If you look for open data, I would recommend you browsing some open data catalogs like the open data catalog from the U.S. government.

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