What are the three most important things in the working day of the busy executive? Results, results, and results (in that order!). While the analysis still needs to be done, it’s the end-product that typically interests business managers and leaders. Likewise, data extraction has value if it leads to insights and actionable information, rather than because of the systems that work to make it happen. Yet executives who know a little about the possibilities of data extraction and how to automate it will be in a better position to specify the results they want from it.
Data extraction leads to transformation and analysis. Good automation software can make it easy to ‘glue’ all components of the process together.
‘Ticker’ Type Data Extraction
Summary information is often high on an executive’s wish list. Being able to see a few key indicators on a regular basis can help confirm that an enterprise is on track to meet its goals – or that action needs to be taken. In a highly competitive market, those indicators may include information on what competitors are doing or what customers are buying. Websites hold a lot of this kind of information. A good automation application will let you automatically ‘scrape’ sites for information on prices being charged, share prices, interest rates, and so on. Following this data extraction, the same automation program can then organize the data into executive reports and dashboards.
Management by Exception
Many processes in a business are set up under the supervision of an executive, and then run without any further close executive attention. It is only when a problem occurs that the executive then needs to get involved. In some cases, the periodic reports may give advance warning. In other cases, the executive may only find out after a dissatisfied customer makes contact. Ideally, however, automated data extraction should allow for alerts to be automatically sent to management in case certain limits are exceeded. Look for automation software that you can easily instruct, for example, to do the data extraction, compare values for key parameters, and decide whether or not to alert executives by sending them a short email.
How Would You Like Your Data?
For better or for worse, spreadsheet formats are standard in the executive world. An office application like Excel offers a powerful range of tools to organize, sort, and analyze data, and then make graphical indicators and charts that allow ‘at a glance’ reading by busy executives. Naturally then, automation software makes even more sense when it not only performs the initial data extraction, but also integrates directly with Excel functions.
End to End Business Process Automation
Sometimes data extraction is only one step in a complete business process. Good automation software will let you link the different steps in a process to automate it from start to finish. That applies to sales, marketing, production, shipping, and accounting, to name just a few departments. The best automation software also makes it easy for non-experts to automate processes. As a rule of thumb, if you can do it manually via a PC running Microsoft Windows, you’ll be able to automate it rapidly and successfully, too.
Big Data, to cut a long story short, is simply all the masses of data that have been generated by people and systems, and that continue to grow exponentially. Somewhere in all those mountains of ‘stuff’, so the theory goes, are the nuggets of business intelligence that can transform the knowledge and the performance of an enterprise. While this kind of data extraction heavy lifting is usually done with software specifically created for the task, these programs still need to manage and run. Top of the line automation software is flexible enough to automatically schedule and control the activity of these programs as well, and forward on any relevant information to eagerly waiting executives.
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