Recent Blogs

What is Data Harvesting?

30 October 2018

In the digital age, data is the most valuable resource for companies and organisations. But how do you gather data in a meaningful way where it can be used to benefit your business? Beyond that, what benefits does collecting data even have? That’s where the idea of “data harvesting” comes into play.

In this blog post, we’re going to explain everything you need to know about data harvesting, including what it means, why it’s beneficial for business (regardless of industry), and what regulations are imposed by the GDPR to protect people’s privacy.

Data Harvesting Explained

In simplest terms, data harvesting is the process of gathering data from multiple (typically online) sources and storing it in a structured database where you can glean insights for various purposes. You might also hear the terms “web scraping,” “data extraction”, or “web crawling,” but they all refer to the same thing.

To extract the data, you use an automation tool that scours the internet to targeted locations, pulls out the valuable info, and then exports it to a structured format where it can be used to conduct data analysis.

Once it’s been collected and exported, it can be used for a wide variety of purposes. Marketers can use it to get a clearer picture of customer sentiments. Or it can be used to study behaviours or to get a better understanding of current industry trends.

How Can Businesses Benefit from Data Harvesting

When a business collects the data needed, it can be sifted through to pick out valuable pieces and analyzed to glean new insights. This process is called “data mining,” and it uses programs and applications to do most of the heavy lifting. Here are a few ways it can improve business functions:

  •     Market segmentation: Learn what characteristics of customers typically use your              product or service for more targeted marketing campaigns.
  •     Fraud detection: Learn patterns that lead to fraudulent transactions.
  •     Market basket analysis: Learn what products and services are typically sold together.
  •     Customer/client attrition: Learn which customers are likely to switch to a competitor         or leave your business.
  •     Trend analysis: Learn what changes in the market are likely to occur

However, data mining can be used in many different ways beyond these. In the end, effective data harvesting and mining will help your business make better decisions going forward.

Data Harvesting & GDPR

If you’re harvesting data from EU citizens, then you will need to follow rules and laws outlined in the European General Data Protection Regulation– GDPR. The law states you can only collect and store data in the EU so long there’s no Personal Identifiable Information (PII) and users remain anonymous. None of the info you collect should make it easy to trace it back to a single individual.

Another stipulation is that you can only hold on to the data for the shortest amount of time needed. Once the information is obsolete, then you must delete it for good. And any personal data collected must be kept accurate and up-to-date.

GDPR also states that you shouldn’t collect sensitive data. This includes information pertaining to:

  •     Race or ethnicity
  •     Sexual orientation
  •     Religious beliefs
  •     Philosophical beliefs
  •     Genetic data
  •     Biometric data
  •     Trade union memberships
  •     Data regarding health or mortality

The only time this data can be collected is if it’s required by law. In this case, your Privacy Policy must clearly state that you’re permitted to collect this sensitive data and why you need to do so.

ICT Solutions: Protect Your Data and Remain Compliant

Now that you understand the benefits of data harvesting, securing your data and staying GDPR compliant is of the utmost importance. Whether it’s improving your cyber security by stopping hackers trying to breach your data or you aren’t sure how to navigate the complex laws surrounding privacy and protection, we’ve got you covered. We even have a blog that explains the best ways your business can prevent data harvesting altogether.

ICT Solutions has over 15 years of experience, and our specialists are ready to help. Want to learn more about data harvesting and how GDPR affects what you can collect? Get in contact with us today and one of our friendly and professional team members will be more than happy to assist!