Say these two words, “data mining” and you’re likely to receive an extremely mixed reaction from people ranging from piqued interest to outright fear.  As they say however, we often fear things which we don’t understand, and at this point it’s safe to assume that many individuals don’t understand how data mining can actually provide benefits to businesses.  By the same token it would be foolish to simply avoid looking at the many ways that something like data mining could be used to snoop on or control people, but you could say the same thing about most IT technologies.

The fact of the matter is that data mining is no more or less dangerous than the people who are using it.  Therefore, if we want to make sure that data mining is being used correctly and ethically, it only makes sense that we bring more people into the field; in this way, some semblance of balance can be maintained if certain groups decided to use if for nefarious purposes.

Getting back to business and the point at hand; how exactly might data mining play a role in, or influence decision-making processes in the business world?  By this point pretty much everyone should be familiar with the term “Big Data”, right?  In essence, data mining techniques are already being used there to extract additional value from large chunks of information via analysis.

Recently, a company called MaintenanceNet has been circulating a story which is relevant; basically, it involves their ongoing efforts to use cloud computing to mine data related to expiring warranty and maintenance contracts.  Once they discover an organization that has IT hardware which is either expiring or is soon to be replaced, they use automated systems to email them with their offers.  Needless to say, this inventive use of data mining has worked quite well for them and other businesses are starting to take notice and adopt similar measures.

As you can gather from the above example, data mining can provide additional value, but it can also help businesses to make more informed decisions as well.  For instance, if a company found that such an approach to finding new business worked fairly well, they wouldn’t need to invest quite as much in marketing or advertising, would they?  In other words, if it where possible to find clientele without having to initiate a multi-million dollar advertising campaign, couldn’t they put those funds toward some new research and development project instead?

It’s this type of “full-spectrum” awareness that a process like data mining provides which gives an organization a distinctive edge when it comes to making sure that they’re making more informed decisions.  If certain information or business is “falling through the cracks”, so to speak, then we’re really talking about lost profits and opportunities.

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Similarly, data mining can be used in tandem with predictive analytics to give businesses much stronger cues when it comes to identifying who their best potential customers might be.  Through predictive analysis you can often determine not only where these clients are, but also what they are likely to purchase next.  If you’re making decisions with regards to your company’s annual budget and/or future plans, having some idea about the market(s) you’re feeding is absolutely critical.  In the past, gathering this type of statistical data was not only extremely time-consuming; it was also very labor-intensive (of course that was before the internet changed everything).  Now, you can make long-term business decisions armed with data that’s been generated through mining and predictive analysis.

By the same token, it’s often possible to predict when and how certain types of customers will leave or disengage with your products / services.  Once again, if you know “why” something is happening you can take steps to prevent it from happening.  The end result is that data mining allows businesses to make more accurate moves in how they deal with their customers via predictive analysis.

Given the popularity and necessity of Big Data, data mining is likely to become more visible in the workplace as well.  Simply put, it wouldn’t make much sense for companies to overlook a potential source of profit like data mining, especially considering that they’ve often already collected the info and only need to sign up for a new service to get going.  Likewise, when data mining is coupled with something like predictive analysis, it’s almost like being able to look into the future.

If someone told you that they could tell you specific details about how a particular market was going to react based on computer modeling, wouldn’t you be interested in hearing what they have to say?  Moreover, we’re also talking about a fairly new area of development here, which could likely become a growth industry.  Seriously, what could be better than an emerging growth sector which seeks to promote additional expansion for businesses?


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