ELI5: data ingestion

The world is running on data. It’s everywhere, constantly created by users, consumers, businesses and platforms.

As technology advances, the need for data grows alongside it. Whether it’s to train intelligent systems, or for use in your business, data is in more demand than ever before. And so, businesses need to carry out data ingestion.

But what does this entail?

What is data ingestion?

Data ingestion is the process of parsing, capturing and absorbing data for use in a business or storage in a database.

It involves masses of data, from several sources and in many different formats. Most of the data your business will absorb is user generated. For example, how and when your customers use your product, website, app or service. Or, customer interactions, service requests, social media mentions, competitor activity, and so on.

Data ingestion is part of a much larger data processing system. That is, it’s the first step in the data lifecycle. Without it, you have no data to maintain, use, cleanse or archive. The bigger your business gets, the more data you’ll ingest.

In short, data ingestion is the act of taking in data and making it accessible for use in your business.

How do you ingest data?

You can complete data in one of two main ways. Namely, through streaming, or in batches.

Streaming is where you ingest the data in real-time — as and when it’s created. For example, social media posts, incoming emails, stock market data etcetera. This method is best for any data that relates to time-sensitive uses.

Batch based ingestion, meanwhile, is where you ingest data in periodic batches. (All in one go in regular lump doses.) For example, ingesting all the transaction data from the day at the end of the day. This is for data with uses that aren’t time-sensitive.

Automation and data ingestion

With so much data ingestion to complete in any given day (and the amount of data only growing), you need tools to help. These are sometimes known as ‘Extract, Transform, Load’ (ETL) tools. ThinkAutomation is one such tool.

Automation software can collect raw data from many sources for you. Of course, that data comes in many different formats. So, automation software can also transform the data as needed. Then, it can load it into your databases, spreadsheets and anywhere else you might need it.

In other words, you don’t need to spend hours of your time scouring through every incoming message, notification, or usage record. All you need to do is set rules for your automation software to follow. With these rules — known as ‘IF’ statements — you tell the software what data to ingest, how to ingest it, and where to put it.

Eating your data

So, data ingestion is exactly as the name suggests: the act of collecting data that you’ll later use in your business.

Do you think automation could be the data ingestion tool for you? Get started today with a 30-day free trial.

Useful links

Using ThinkAutomation as an ETL tool

A beginner’s guide to ‘IF’ statements

ThinkAutomation free trial