Automate to get a grasp on overflow of Web data

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When it comes to information monitoring of your brand online, many marketers might pray for an extra hand. It's common to keep track of company mentions on search engines and social networks, but how many companies have resources in place to monitor every reference to their brand across the Web? How many can definitively say that they have an accurate view of dynamic real-time information about their competitors and industry influencers? How many can keep track of the activities of dozens of groups via websites in every written language? Nowhere near enough.

The global economic meltdown has slashed budgets and left teams with fewer personnel resources and more work than ever before. Unbeknownst to many who would believe that immediate tasks trump long-term data management, knowing everything there is to know about you and your competitors isn't a luxury. It's a critical if your business is to succeed.

Hiring employees just for the sake of actively monitoring relevant Web information isn't an option for most companies. To gather huge quantities of information on relevant topics is extremely difficult for even the largest teams, and to turn this information into actionable intelligence analyzed historically, holistically and comparatively is simply beyond human capability. As human beings our talents are better suited to tasks requiring judgment; we invented machines to automate assembly and other repetitive tasks.

Online information monitoring tools may seem superfluous for niche service providers or specialty retailers, but for many organizations having a single version of the truth – through a central repository created from Web data or real-time information flow – is a prerequisite for survival. Take government security agencies or anti-terror groups. If they're tracking a terror cell operating in several countries simultaneously then just searching US websites on Google isn't going to cut it. They need thousands of eyes on search engines, databases, wikis, data networks, publications, chat rooms, mirror sites and any iteration thereof 24/7.

Even for organizations with no influence over life-or-death situations (the majority of us), having sound data upon which to glean insight is a necessity. No matter what time it is for you, there are billions of people somewhere in the world who are awake, online and commenting on something that has to do with your business. Capturing just what you happen to see in search engines is like touching only the tail of a proverbial elephant.

There are more than a trillion “deep Web” pages not indexed by search engines and that number grows every day. Technology allows us to monitor the sites of your choosing for changes on a regular basis so that you're always working with real-time information. Technology advances have dramatically changed the way we do business. Instead of viewing this as an intruder, we should embrace it as a means of freeing ourselves to focus on the things that make us truly human such as thinking critically.

Gina Cerami, director of marketing at Connotate a Web data services company.

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