When you hear the words “web data”, what comes to mind? Is it any information you can find on Google, Yahoo!, Amazon, or just simply WWW? As a consumer, the Worldwide Web is certainly the defacto source of any data that I care about.
But when I walk into my office on Monday morning, something suddenly changes. “Web data” becomes much more. It’s campaign or lead information in Salesforce.com. It’s HR and company information on our Wiki. It’s essentially any data within my corporate firewall that I need to get my job done and data that is critical to the success of my company. On the other hand, WWW is generally a secondary source of information e.g. when I’m doing some market research or keeping an eye on my competitors.
A common theme has emerged in my discussions with executives of global companies: an increasing need among all of them to tap into WWW information and make better business decisions. But for the most part, these projects are departmental and functional – competitive pricing, voice of the customer, etc. Here’s the problem. If companies are trying to increase their competitive advantage based upon the use of public web data (i.e. WWW) then their competitors will also have access to that same data… thus their competitive advantage will certainly be short lived! While creating departmental use cases for the use of public web data is a good first step, it’s not sufficient. Every company’s ability to compete and win is based upon its unique operational capabilities. Therefore, it’s essential that ALL sources of information be incorporated within the same enterprise information architecture.
Enter “Web Data Services”: the intersection of Web2.0, Enterprise 2.0, and BI 2.0. Web2.0 provides modern tools for companies to marry traditional enterprise data (ERP,CRM, Supply Chain, etc.) with data from the Cloud and WWW thus modernizing their information systems. And the net effect is enabling executives to bring their dashboards, reporting and analytics to the next level for critical decision making.
“Web data” is effectively any data you can see in a browser… a website or web application that is inside or outside your firewall, in your partner’s intranet or in the Cloud. But consider this: It is much easier to mine or harvest public web data than it is to pull data from behind firewalls and then turn it into valuable assets that drive your business forward. The need for automation tools, or Web Data Services, that access, enrich and serve all web data is critical to the success of your business.