Is It Really a Data Mining Tool?

Every day when I read my business intelligence bytes on the Internet, there is always some mention of one data mining tool or another. Yesterday, MicroStrategy stated that its newest product – MicroStrategy 7 – was a data mining product that would take organizations to the next level of business intelligence. Whether MicroStrategy delivers on this promise remains to be seen, but a number of vendors have begun calling their tools a data mining tool when they are really not. So before you go out and spend a half million dollars, make sure you look under the covers to see what you are getting.

The truth is that vendors have always liked to exaggerate the tool that they are delivering. Remember when OLAP was new, everyone wanted to pitch their tool as an OLAP tool even if it wasn’t. The same is happening with data mining. Many vendors are pitching OLAP tools as data mining tools. Here are some key aspects that separate data mining tools from traditional OLAP and reporting tools.

  • Classification – Data mining tools traditionally use a sample of data to develop a number of unique categories based on a set of attributes. The data mining tool can take a new, unclassified element and then place that element within one of the existing categories or develop a new category. 
  • Clustering – Many data mining tools are able to cluster …

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