Alternative Data FAQ

What is alternative data?

Alternative data just means data from non-traditional data sources.  This might sound a little boring, but it’s not.  Alternative data drives product and service innovation inside the world’s leading organizations, who use these uncommon data sources to give themselves a data-edge over their competition.  

How can alternative data help me?

What is the biggest problem in your business right now?  Do you have something in mind?  Ok.  Now hold onto that and imagine the perfect dataset that would allow you to answer the questions surrounding that problem.  Is any of that data available on the web or in another non-traditional data source?  Think hard.  You will be surprised at the problems that alternative data can solve.  Our customers use alternative data in a wide variety of applications including: new product development, market research, competitive intelligence, lead sourcing and many others.  Read some of our customer case studies [here].  

Is alternative data worth it if I’m a smaller company?

Yes.  Every company is a data company and alternative data is the best kind of data.  The right data powering your company can turn a small business from a niche player in an industry to a major threat to established enterprise companies.  Alternative data is levelling the playing field in the same way that other technological waves have done so before.  Using alternative data for your business will help you punch well above your weight and harness the analytical and predictive power previously reserved only for big business.  

Is alternative data customizable for what’s important to my business?

Obviously every business runs differently, with different processes, products and ideas of success.  This means that it is important to develop custom datasets tailored for your business.  With traditional data providers, every customer pays for access to the exact same dataset, this has the effect of eroding any competitive advantage that the data may have provided to your business.  Alternative data is the definition of customizable.  The only limit is your imagination.  If you can form the question that you want answered about your business the likelihood is that you can use alternative data to get that question answered.  

Can I combine alternative data with my more traditional data sources?

Combining your existing business data sources with alternative data is the best way to use alternative data.  Modern alternative data platforms make it easy to mix your internal and traditional data sources with alternative data following standardized schemas and APIs.   

What are the different kinds of alternative data available?

There are many different types of alternative data.  The three most common types that industry leaders talk about are: satellite data, sensor data and web data.  Web data is the largest of the three types in terms of sheer size and diversity of content making it the most accessible for companies getting started with alternative data.  

Can I use alternative data without coding or IT help?

Yes.  With a modern alternative data solution, if you can use Microsoft Excel then you can use alternative data.  

How do I know if my business needs alternative data?

If you are still not sure if your business would benefit from alternative data, below are some clues that can help you in your decision.  If anything on this short checklist sounds familiar, alternative data might be worth exploring to help your business continue to drive innovation.  

  • You feel like your competitors know more about your customers than you do.  
  • Your own staff consult your own website to answer basic business questions that they should be able to report on
  • You find that even the simplest business questions require that you open multiple tabs in your browser
  • You have ever copy-pasted from a web page into a spreadsheet
  • You have ever paid someone to perform a web research task for you

Why Import.io for my alternative data needs?

Import.io is built from the ground up to work with alternative data.  We are the leaders in web data extraction, currently the biggest alternative data segment in terms of data size and data diversity.