Introduction to Data Extraction

What is Data Extraction?

Data extraction is the process of obtaining usable formatted data from disparate sources, many of which may be unorganised or unstructured. 

The output is typically in a structured form, allowing individuals and businesses to utilise the data to full capacity: for example, internal reporting, analytics, or insight for making key business decisions.

Data extraction makes it possible to process and refine data so that it can be stored in a centralised location, ready for any downstream use.

The Benefits of Data Extraction

Individuals and companies of all sizes, across virtually all industries, will need to extract data for a given purpose at some point.

For some, it could be as simple as aligning internal business processes across teams (e.g. aligning capital markets with strategic investments). 

Others might look to build insight products drawing on multiple data sources utilised at varying levels of complexity to tackle a market problem.

Data extraction can also play a significant part in making core business decisions. For example, validating pricing or connecting data into a proprietary decision engine to validate claims or policies.

Vast amounts of data are extracted manually; either ad hoc by those requiring the information or on an ongoing or project basis by specialist outsourced teams who typically receive the raw materials, extract the data (often into a spreadsheet) and return it to the respective party.

This legacy approach is labour intensive with shrinking cost and accuracy benefits as using automated solutions gains momentum. The benefits of automating these types of processes include:


It’s your data, you should be able to do what you want when you want. 

  • Increased agility
    • Imagine the scenario where there are 10,000 documents to process and your current data extraction process takes approximately 3 months. If in this process a key datapoint has been missed, then it would be necessary to re-review all 10,000 documents plus train the team on how to find and return the desired information. 

  • Simplified sharing
    • By utilising SaaS platforms such as PDFx you can select just the essential information for the task in hand; whether that’s one document or 10,000.

  • Accuracy and precision
    • We’re all guilty of it… whilst we try our best to keep consistency and accuracy, manual processes always come with the risk of human error. A slight training mistake or a misunderstanding (that isn’t resolved for a couple of days), is a couple of days wasted.

Data Extraction – just how you want it.

Over time, you’ve made significant cumulative efforts to collect and properly store vast amounts of data, but if the data isn’t in a readily accessible format or location, you’re missing out on critical insights and potential deals.

Five key automation benefits

  • Improved accuracy/consistency?
    • Once a data point has been trained once, the subsequent automation process is capable of repeating the extraction task an infinite number of times. The algorithms are always improving, and the supplementary flagging process can even prevent erroneous data from being ingested from the source (i.e. where entered incorrectly into the original document).
  • Increased productivity
    • “It’s not always that we need to do more, but rather that we need to focus on less” – Automation won’t replace jobs, it will empower staff to do more by removing the cumbersome monotony.
  • Improved decision making
    • You have an hour to make a decision, in that time you could manually review 10 documents, or you could increase your sample size and analyse 5,000, making better decisions with the newly gained data.
  • Save time
    • PDFx is not dependent on templates or coordinates within a document to extract data. We take the view that no two documents are ever the same and so the data could be found anywhere. In a 35-page document, a human would have to read every page or at the best search for keywords/phrases which may signpost what they are looking for. PDFx removes all those overheads.
  • Save money
    • By automating manual tasks, the return on investment is significant in both the short and the long term.

Final thoughts

Data for analytics and insight is high growth global business across industries and marketplaces and businesses of all sizes are beginning to realise the benefits of data-driven decision making… 

The ability to near real-time extract and utilise assets from the universe of data, supported by human intuition, presents endless opportunities to revolutionise industries as we know them.

If you or your business are still manually searching, extracting, and reviewing data from tens, hundreds, or even thousands of documents on a regular basis. We would strongly recommend that you investigate whether the process can be automated.

Data extraction is all about empowering, not replacing.

Harness your data: arrange a call or demo