The Beginner’s Guide To Keboola III: We ♥ Your Third Party Data Sources

by Keboola

You’re certainly using them, you probably like them, and perhaps they even help you save some money. However, you’ll find the real treasure of third party data sources the moment you interconnect them and find the answers to your business questions.

In this edition of the Beginner’s Guide you’ll find out how to use data from external services and databases to better understand your data. You will also begin to recognize the importance of getting to know your data (actually it’s time to become best friends), and how to ask the right questions to get the right results (or buckle up for one bumpy ride!).

What data sources does Keboola use?

The short answer…...lots. At Keboola, we are able to connect to most modern systems. We simply need to find the API and it’s ready, set, go.  We like to think of APIs as magical translators that allow programs to exchange data and thus make it more meaningful to you.

These are the 9 nominees for “most used source in a Keboola project” (in no particular order):

Although these are the most common, the potential for new sources is limitless (and that is why we love our dev team).

If it is readable, we can use any kind of data.

Along with service and applications connections via API, you can send us your data in almost any format. We are able to read data in everything from CSV to JSON to unstructured text in a notepad.

We can even go beyond text data and bring in pictures (bless the magic of OCR) if you so desire. The most important thing to remember when bringing data in is that it needs to be readable.

Once we have established the readability of your data we can start building out your project. Our process is generally top secret but usually involves locking ourselves in the office, utilizing only food delivery trucks for survival. We think through the logics of connection, carry out tests, and write documentation. We are then ready to upload your data and start building reports for your viewing pleasure.

Sounds great, except I have no idea where to start and what to do!

Don’t panic. Data can seem overwhelming but it is all about asking a few simple questions and then doing a few simple things.

Start by asking yourself some questions like:

  • What exactly do you want to assess?
  • How can data help you with that?
  • What indicators do you need to watch?
  • What information is missing from the tools you already have?

Next gather the data. 

For external sources begin investigating how information is communicated, the magical translators known as APIs are a great place to start. For internal sources just keep doing what you are doing and update the information you already have. If you haven’t started yet, think of ways to capture that internal information and initiate the process.

By doing some strategic thinking and then organizing your data you are well on your way to creating the right results. This process also helps to explain why more expensive data services are not necessarily better than those that are free. What matters most is the relevance of your data to answering your business questions.

It’s sort of like buying an s-class Mercedes for a ride through the rough and rocky Rubicon Trail. Arguably Mercedes makes one heck of a car, but if you don’t ask where you are going it might be a rather unpleasant ride for you and the car. That’s why it is important to ask questions first and then collect, collect, collect until you are able to cruise through to the right results.

We have to drive off into the sunset for now, but stayed tuned as we builds on this idea in our next article featuring an interview with Tomáš from Czech Keboola.