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2023 in a Nutshell: A Retrospective

Looking back at 2023

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.

Albert Einstein

The deeper we delve, the more expansive the journey – true for both intelligence and data.

As things stand, internet users create 2.5 quintillion (That’s 18 zeroes) bytes of data every day! The rise of data has been astronomical, as we have seen the power of creation democratized.

The Big Data phenomenon has penetrated every facet of innovation, be that physical, biological, or social.

However, the first conundrum of transforming the huge potential of data into tangible insights was witnessed in 1981, when I.A Tjomsland raised interesting questions in his talk ‘Where do we go from here?’ at the Fourth IEEE Symposium on Mass Storage Systems.

He said that we could paraphrase Parkinson’s first law which states that ‘work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion’ to fit the data industry – ‘Data expands to fill the space available’.

With data seeping into all aspects of business, it is difficult to distinguish between quality data and bad data. Tjomsland also noted that businesses are storing a lot of data because they have no way of differentiating between good data and bad data.

Such a quandary exists to this day. When we started our journey in 2012, little did we know how vast this realm would expand to be, and the challenges that would accompany digging through the mountain of data.

We believe the reason for our existence in this world has been to dig through this astonishing heap and help provide intelligence that can/will propel innovation forward.

Last time around, we came to grasp the momentous task that was in front of us. In 2023, we built systems in place to ‘Simplify Access to Data’, and scale Grepsr into a truly global enterprise.

Word from our Leadership

In the wake of an economic downturn that temporarily disrupted the tech industry’s trajectory, the imperative for innovation has never been clearer. 

Challenges often serve as catalysts for change, and this downturn prompted us to explore alternative avenues and craft radical solutions.

There is opportunity to be found in adversity, and we are glad to let you know that we have emerged stronger.

2023 Key Highlights

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick rundown of the big things that went down at Grepsr in 2023:

  1. Going Antifragile: In response to last year’s financial pressures, we embarked on a journey of exploration, seeking alternative avenues and crafting radical solutions to confront unforeseen challenges. We are more resilient than ever.
  2. Thriving together: Our Customer NPS soared to 52, comfortably surpassing the industry’s 31! But that’s just the beginning. We’re on a mission to reach new heights, driven by your feedback and support.
  3. Data sparks enthusiasm in MENA: The Seamless Middle East Expo 2023 left us buzzing with excitement we can’t shake off. Our stand became a hotspot as attendees grooved to the rhythm of ‘Talk Data to Me’, quite literally. The interest in data was palpable, echoing the growing enthusiasm in the MENA region.
  4. Revolutionizing our Tech Stack: Our latest overhaul prioritizes transparency, scalability, and security at its core. But that’s not all – our data extraction platform has never been more user-friendly, making powerful tools accessible to all.
  5. Expanding our Product Suite: We are thrilled to unveil Pline, our cutting-edge data extraction tool set to launch later this year. Currently in rapid development, Pline is designed to offer data practitioners the best of both worlds – Automation and Human-in-the-loop.
  6. Unveiling a new workspace facility: We introduced a new workspace right next to our original hub. It mirrors the essence of the data we deliver – both unassuming and imposing.

Going Antifragile

Going-antifragile

In a recent blog post, we drew attention to a notable transformation in the retail sector. After experiencing an impressive series of consecutive quarters with double-digit growth (from Q1 2021 through Q1 2022), the trajectory shifted, leading to a downturn in total retail sales growth during the following three quarters in 2023.

However, amidst these changes, the anticipated recession of 2023 did not materialize. Business operations continued, albeit at a somewhat slower pace. The encouraging aspect lies in the emergence of new trends in data ingestion. 

Companies have adapted to novel approaches, with a noteworthy surge in the demand for data for research purposes.

This evolution reflects a dynamic landscape where businesses are navigating challenges, exploring innovative avenues, and contributing to the evolution of data consumption patterns. Here are some notable data extraction trends in 2023:

1. Adoption of Robotic Process Automation

We use automation of RPA tools in web scraping to create bots that automate repetitive tasks on digital platforms. Bots are programmed to navigate websites, interact with forms, and extract specific data according to client’s requirements.

This is often a procedure with complex workflows. We train the bots to mimic user interactions such as clicking buttons, filling out forms, and scrolling through pages.

Over the past year, we have handled a substantial number of these requests, successfully executing hundreds of use cases. Through these experiences, our team has cultivated a distinct expertise in Robotic Process Automation.

2. Tailored Data APIs for Seamless Integration and Observability

With the rise of ML and especially AI technologies, brands are no longer content with mere datasets confined to spreadsheets. What they want is data at scale delivered to them directly via APIs

Over the past year, we seamlessly integrated our systems with those of our clients countless times, facilitating an uninterrupted flow of data. 

Moreover, the spotlight on data observability has intensified, driven by brands navigating tight financial constraints and aiming to maximize the utilization of web data available to them. 

In response to these evolving demands, our team has honed its expertise, particularly in developing high-speed data APIs tailored to e-commerce, job postings, leads, real estate, and healthcare data.

3. Emerging Industries

In the past year, we’ve witnessed an interesting evolution—the emergence of new industries leveraging data as a strategic asset for advancement.

Notably, sectors such as Legal, Research, Venture Capital, and Online Media have taken center stage, unveiling a myriad of possibilities.

What’s truly intriguing is the substantial surge in data requests from traditionally overlooked industries, each accompanied by unique and compelling use cases.

Even International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) have joined the trend, harnessing massive volumes of data to draw definitive conclusions.

As these diverse industries increasingly turn to data for insights, we embrace the challenge with enthusiasm, staying agile to meet evolving demands. 

Keep it coming—it’s these dynamic shifts that keep us on our toes and drive us towards continuous innovation.

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Thriving Together

Sweet-gesture

We’re excited to announce that our customer Net Promoter Score (NPS) has soared to an impressive 52! To put it in perspective, the SaaS industry average is 31. While we’re delighted with this achievement, we’re not hitting the brakes just yet. 

Our goal? To elevate that number to the Zenith of customer satisfaction. 

But the journey doesn’t end there. We’re grateful for the gifts we receive daily – the positive feedback, the constructive critiques, and the stories of success from our valued customers. 

Your input fuels our drive to continuously enhance our offerings and provide an unparalleled experience. 

That being said, some of our clients pleasantly surprise us every now and then. On a random morning last year, we got a call from the customs department that a new package had arrived with Grepsr’s name on it. Who could it be, we thought? In hindsight, we should have known. 

It was a sweet gesture from one of our clients! The team enjoyed every bit of this. Thanks!

We are grateful for being an integral part of your success story. With your continued support, we’re committed to reaching new heights and setting the standards for excellence in the data industry. Here’s to happy customers and the exciting journey ahead!

Data Sparks Enthusiasm in the Middle East and North Africa Region

Seamless Dubai

For two years in a row we attended the Seamless Middle East Expo, which is a meeting place for the brightest and most innovative minds across the payments, fintech, identity, banking, retail, e-commerce, home delivery and digital marketing industries. 

We were quite skeptical about the reception to be honest. Since the MENA region is a relative newcomer to the field of data, we had our fingers crossed.

Nothing could have prepared us for what we were in for. Not only did we receive an overwhelming response at the expo but the interest in different facets of data adoption has compelled us to cater more of our services to the MENA region.

Now, we are working with many professionals from a variety of industries in the MENA region to make the most out of web data.

We can’t end this segment without sharing a quirky tidbit from the expo. In one of our promotional efforts there was a sticker with the copy ‘Talk Data to Me.’

Noticing the pun, two of our visitors got down to business quickly, freewhiling a rap verse in minutes and sharing their skills with us. This short interlude helped us forget the fatigue accumulated after spending hours answering limitless queries of our visitors. 

We only regret that nobody recorded the performance, lost in all the excitement probably.

Revolutionizing our Tech Stack

Revolutionizing-Tech-Stack

It’s not the wand that chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter, but the wizard who chooses the wand.

Mr Ollivander, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

As with each preceding year, we advanced our technology and infrastructure to accommodate the multitude of data requests. 

Noteworthy was our dedicated emphasis on enhancing access and security, coupled with meticulous people management behind the scenes, which played a pivotal role in making all of this possible.

Here are some major new features in our data management platform:

1. User Action Visibility

Enhancing visibility into user actions is crucial for better management and understanding of data extraction processes.

This involves implementing features that allow users to schedule extraction tasks and monitor delivery timelines. 

A user-friendly dashboard can display scheduled tasks, ongoing extractions, and completed deliveries, providing transparency and control over the entire data extraction workflow.

2. File Delivery Logs

File delivery logs are essential for tracking the status of data deliveries. This feature maintains a comprehensive record of each data file’s journey, from extraction to delivery. 

Detailed logs include timestamps, destination, and any relevant delivery issues. This information is invaluable for troubleshooting, auditing, and ensuring data integrity throughout the delivery process.

3. New and Improved Quality Dashboard

The Quality Dashboard serves as a centralized hub for admin users to assess the health and performance of data extraction crawlers.

This dashboard provides real-time insights into extraction success rates, identifies anomalies, and offers tools for mitigating potential risks.

Admins can utilize this dashboard to make data-driven decisions, optimize extraction configurations, and ensure the overall quality and reliability of the extraction process.

4. Email Digest

An email digest feature is designed to keep account owners informed about the status of data extraction runs.

Automated emails can notify account owners about successful extractions, highlight any missed runs, or provide alerts for issues that require attention.

This proactive communication ensures that stakeholders are kept in the loop and can take prompt action if needed.

Navigating Challenges with Resilience

Despite facing complexities and evolving deadlines, our team has navigated challenges seamlessly. The integration of new systems alongside the preservation of the existing infrastructure posed unique hurdles, but our resilience has paid off.

Synergizing for Success

Focused on workplace efficiency, our young team, integrated systems, and collaborative synergy are driving us to not only meet deadlines but exceed expectations.

Mr. Ollivander put it best.

The magic of our data management platform stems more from the people rather than the tools they employ.

Expanding our Product Suite

Pline launching soon

There are hundreds of services available out there which offer data extraction services. Almost all of them are perfectly capable of handling millions of data points. 

However, in this race for quantity, quality is often forced to take a backseat. 

Our answer to the problem – Pline, a Human-led, AI-enhanced data extraction tool. Pline redefines the game by blending automation with a human-touch. 

When you choose Pline, you aren’t just extracting data, you are creating ‘Data Workflows’ – the essential building blocks of quality information. 

These ‘data workflows’ automate data extraction for you by sidestepping concerns about website structures, rate limiting, IP blocking, CAPTCHAS, dynamic content loading, and authentication & authorization. 

That’s all we will give you – for now.

We will soon make Pline available for your usage. When we do, we implore you to share your reservations and feedback. Until then, watch this space!

Unveiling a New Workspace Facility

New Workspace

Navigating millions of records daily demands advanced tech, a dedicated team, and a culture fostering innovation. During the pandemic, our team doubled, leading to a new facility reflecting our commitment to minimalist design and optimal functionality.

With an unwavering focus on quality data, our workspace mirrors our technological infrastructure—simple, purposeful, and free from unnecessary embellishments. This expansion signifies more than just growth; it’s a testament to our commitment to a future shaped by innovation and excellence.

Shifting Strategies, Unwavering Focus

When the internet was still in its infancy, the talk of a ‘digital divide’ gained traction among technologists all over the world. 

Digital divide is the unequal access to digital technology between various groups of people, owing to the inability to ‘afford’ the internet. 

Fast forward to today, the digital divide seems like a stuff of myth. The majority of people in the world have access to the internet, and because of this, information has become democratized, thanks to relentless innovation. 

If anything, the internet is the great equalizer. When asked how future historians will describe our current era, the veteran investor Dany Rimer described it as an era of incredible innovation at an unprecedented pace.  

And we believe there’s nothing wrong with that. 

Like Andreesen Horowitz, we are techno-optimists. We believe technology will solve the most pressing problems, and it is technology that will take us to Mars. 

Grepsr is tasked with an important mission in the information age. It is to dig through the mountain of data and propel innovation. 

And, we will never stop digging. 

Happy New Year 2024!

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