How to Find and Buy the Data You Need to Succeed

Data is a company’s most valuable asset and it is one of the most critical components of a brand’s growth and success. The right data can lead to amazing improvements in growth, productivity, and risk management.

However, no company can collect all of the data they need on their own. They will always have gaps in their internal information that only external data can fill.

In order to remain competitive, you’ll need to acquire high-quality data from external sources. In fact, in a 2019 Deloitte survey, 92% of data analytics professionals said their companies needed to increase use of external data sources. Acquiring external data can feel like an overwhelming and confusing process, but the companies that aren’t taking advantage of external data sources are quickly falling behind.

Fortunately, you can get started acquiring the data you need to succeed as soon as today by following a few simple steps and choosing the right method for your company.

Determine what kind of data you need

It’s important to determine what kind of data will bring value to your organization and how you intend to use that data to help your company grow and evolve. Are you seeking to acquire data in order to answer a specific question? Are you trying to optimize an existing solution? Are you trying to gain insights to solve a series of problems?

Whether you are trying to answer a specific question with new insights or optimize an existing system, you will want a large and diverse set of data related to your area of concern. In order to fine-tune your focus, you’ll want to pinpoint the ways that external data is going to improve your organization so that you have a clear mission in your data acquisition search.

Once you have figured out what kind of data you need, you’ll also want to determine what kinds of companies might have the data you’re searching for. For instance, if you’re searching for data on transactions and purchasing patterns, you might acquire that data from marketing companies or credit card companies. If you are searching for medical or pharmaceutical data, you might find that data available from healthcare provider websites or apps.

Data acquisition considerations and concerns

When buying data, you’ll need to consider:


How much bandwidth do your internal teams have to handle data acquisition and negotiations? Who in your organization might be able to handle the technical and legal aspects of the acquisition? Determine which employees would have the best understanding of the data needs within your organization.


How much of a budget does your organization have for external data? Decide how much your company is willing to allocate to data acquisition. Cost varies depending on many factors, so setting a reasonable spending range is better than having one set number in mind.


How fast do you need the data you’re looking to acquire? Are you trying to acquire data before an important decision is made? Do you have deadlines to meet? Depending on the route you take, data acquisition could take as little as a few days to as long as a few years.


You’ll also want to consider that data quality can be difficult to guarantee, but is critical to your organization’s success. Your organization’s decisions will only be as good as the data that fuels them–bad data leads to bad decisions. That means that you’ll have to be scrupulous in your data acquisition search. Transparent sources will help you verify the quality of the data you’re acquiring.

These are all important factors to consider when you are deciding the method that you’ll be using in order to acquire your data. Once you have a basic idea of what your data acquisition needs and limitations are, you can decide which data acquisition method is best for you.

Choose your method for buying data

There are a few different ways that you can find and buy data. Essentially, you can make direct purchases or go through third parties. The best method for you depends on your organization’s priorities and abilities.

Buy directly from another company

You can make a direct negotiation with another company that has the data you want to buy. This is a tried-and-true way to acquire precise and trustworthy data, since you know exactly where the data is coming from and have a direct relationship with the company whose data you will be using. However, this can be a time and labor-intensive process.

You’ll need to go through several steps with this method: doing research to find companies that might have the data you need, evaluating data from various sources, negotiating a deal, and then having your data engineers integrate their data with yours.

This process generally takes a few months to a few years before you actually see any of the data you want to acquire. And if you decide you need a new type of data, you’ll have to repeat this time-consuming and labor-intensive process over again.

Buy from a data broker

Data brokers are organizations that collect data from multiple sources, process that data, and repackage it into summarized datasets. Buying data from a data broker is a much faster way to buy large amounts of data quickly and easily. Data brokers have access to data from multiple sources and give you a bundle of it for a set price. It’s one transaction for a medley of data.

However, there are tradeoffs to this approach. Since you are buying a large mashup of anonymized and aggregated data, you won’t know exactly what data you are getting, how the data was collected, or if you are purchasing duplicate data.

You also aren’t able to pick and choose which datasets you want. Data brokers organize the data the way they see fit and give it to you without customizations. You just get what you get and that’s that, even if the data you purchased ends up being unusable.

Buy from a data exchange

Data exchanges are marketplaces where data providers and data consumers are able to buy or sell data to one another. Much like marketplaces, they are spaces that allow for vendors and buyers to meet, evaluate, and transact.

 Buying data from a data exchange is also a fast and easy route to go. However, there is still little to no opportunity to customize the data you’re ingesting. You can purchase pre-packaged data the way the distributor gives it to you and that’s it.

These marketplaces also require a certain level of technical expertise to search for, purchase, and transfer data to your organization’s systems. In most cases, businesses need to hire professionals to set up API integrations and clean and standardize the data for use. Data exchanges make it easy to find data, but still don’t make the process of acquiring data as fast, easy, or customizable as it could be.

Buy from a data collaboration platform

A data collaboration platform automates and simplifies the process of purchasing data. It is the quickest and easiest way to discover, buy, and access the exact data you need.

Like a data exchange, a data collaboration platform connects data buyers with many data providers in one place. But unlike a data exchange, where you’re buying prepackaged products, a data collaboration platform gives you nearly unlimited options to create custom datasets that fit your precise needs and budget.

With a data collaboration platform, you get exactly what you need, and nothing you don’t. Instead of buying a massive package of data, you can pick and choose the exact data points you want. If one supplier doesn’t have everything you need, you can buy from another supplier too, all at once and without worrying about duplicate data.

Once you purchase your data, a data collaboration platform will automatically clean and standardize it, so you can start using it immediately. In a sense, the external data you purchase is automatically translated so that your internal systems can understand, process, and store it easily.

Essentially, a data collaboration platform combines all of the benefits of the other approaches, without sacrificing time, money, or control

Narrative is the world’s #1 data collaboration platform

Narrative’s data collaboration platform provides an easy way to buy data, with advanced filtering options, customization tools, and subscription options. You can find the exact data you need from dozens of providers and have it delivered in your preferred format within hours.

These tools also help you automate data discovery, streamline cleaning and formatting tasks, and eliminate duplicate data. Since the most frustrating parts of data acquisition are automated on the backend, Narrative’s platform makes buying data as easy as ordering groceries online. The user-friendly interface requires no technical expertise to purchase data with just a few clicks.

This quick tutorial takes you through the steps to purchase data in Narrative's Buyer Studio in one minute or less:

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