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Data mining: the means to competitive advantage

Data mining: the means to competitive advantage

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Published by: dmitry8071 on Feb 09, 2009
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Head Office
T: 267.616.1444F: 1.905.761.10069 Flagstaff PlacePhiladelphia, PA19115 USAinfo@bisolutions.us
T: 647.271.1932F: 905.761.1006150 Borrows StreetThornhill, ONL4J 2W8 Canadawww.bisolutions.us
APRIL 2008Dmitry Brusilovsky & Eugene Brusilovskiy
By investing in data mining applications, an organizationcan gain a competitive advantage and uncover valuable customerinformation that cannot be identified in any other way.
Data mining technology is rapidly becoming strategically important to many data-rich firms. In fact, it isnow considered a significant new component of the enterprise decision support system and thisincrease in demand is forcing managers to ask themselves the following questions (Brusilovskiy andHernandez, 2001):Should we buy data mining software or not?Would it be best to hire data mining analysts, retrain current employees or invite an external datamining consultant to join our company?For which challenges is data mining technology most appropriate? There are no universal answers to these questions. Rather, the answers depend on an organization’sindustry, business and project specificity. In order to respond with confidence, management mustbecome familiar with the fundamental characteristics of data mining technology. They need tounderstand that a successful data mining project requires them to: a) select a problem that isappropriate for data mining, and b) select the most suitable data mining technology and/or datamining consultant for that problem.
Data mining is defined as the non-trivial iterative process of extracting implicit, previously unknown andpotentially useful information from data. The successful application of data mining requires the selectionof a suitable project. The business problem that such a project may address can be labeled as structuredor unstructured (Table 1).Structured problems can be categorized as those for which all structural elements – such as goals,alternatives, data structure, criteria and environmental factors – are well known. At a glance, working ondata mining projects that uncover previously unknown non-trivial hidden patterns in the data of structuredproblems may seem like a smart way to gain a competitive advantage. However, your competitors aremost likely equally well acquainted with the known elements of such problems and can consequentlymatch your company's results if they use corresponding analytics. A greater competitive advantage lies in unstructured problems. Simplicity of pattern ascertainment,automation of hidden pattern discovery and minimal pattern interpretation issues do not apply tounstructured problems. By their nature, unstructured problems have no standard solutions (Table 1).Because some or all of the structural elements of an unstructured problem are undefined, ill-definedor unknown, these problems are difficult to solve.
Business Intelligence Solutions – White PaperData Mining: The Means to Competitive Advantagewww.bisolutions.us| Data. Knowledge. Action.Copyright © Business Intelligence Solutions | Dmitry Brusilovsky & Eugene Brusilovskiy [2]
 Your competitors are not familiar with your company's unstructured problems. In fact, they’re probablynot even aware that such problems exist. Your real competitive edge lies in using knowledge-discoveringtechnology to solve your business’s unstructured problems, as your competitors will be unable to easilyreplicate your solutions.In summary, projects that find the solutions to unstructured business problems can be termed realdata mining projects. The successful resolution of a real data mining project provides organizationswith high payoff.
Business Intelligence Solutions – White PaperData Mining: The Means to Competitive Advantagewww.bisolutions.us| Data. Knowledge. Action.Copyright © Business Intelligence Solutions | Dmitry Brusilovsky & Eugene Brusilovskiy [3]
Characteristics GoalComplexityCausalityConsequences of potential actionsExampleKey business question Translation intoquantitative counterpart
Can be:described with a high degree of completenesssolved with a high degree of certaintyeasily and uniquely translated into quantitativecounterpartExperts usually agree on the best method andbest solutionFind the best solutionFrom very simple to complex, usually lies withinone disciplineEasy to ascertainKnownProject: Sample size identificationWhat is customers sample size (only onepromotion channel vs. synergy of twopromotional channels) to detect at least twopurchase difference in sales of Product A?If the project will be given to 5 differentstatisticians, all of them will come up withidentical results: same methodology, samesample size calculation procedure, and sameoutcome – a table with calculated samplesize as a function of power, regardless of software used
Cannot be:described with a high degree of completenessresolved with a high degree of certaintyeasily and uniquely translated into quantitativecounterpartExperts usually disagree on the best methodand best solutionFind reasonable/acceptable solutionFrom complex to very complex, as a rule lies atthe interface of multiple disciplinesDifficult to ascertainUnknownProject: Customer Feedback StudyIs there any relationship between customerperception of company reputation/brand equityand company products portfolio sales?If the project will be given to 5 different dataminers, each of them will come up with uniquemethodology, require specific data miningalgorithms and software, and the results will notbe identical (even terms in which findings will beformulated, can be completely different)

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