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Data Mining: How do You Choose the Right Software?

Software. It's only as good as the analyst using it.

“How do you choose the right software for data mining and predictive analytics?” This is one of the first questions that people ask any of the experts at TMA.

Asking this question first is putting the cart before the horse, but it is a valid question to ask. After all, it’s wise to make sure that your company is making a right-sized investment when you look for tools to support your predictive analytics efforts.

TMA is vendor neutral. There is no such thing as the “one true software package.” However, there are principles that you can follow which will ultimately lead you to the right software once it is time to begin shopping for one.

Project strategy always comes first.

The very first step in the software selection process is making sure that you are ready to choose a software package in the first place. That means that you’ve already gone through the project planning process. You’ve focused on a real business problem. You understand which of the many data mining techniques are good fits for solving the problem. You’ve cleaned up your data and understand what data sets will be most useful.

In short, you want to make sure that you’re not doing “big data for the sake of big data.” You know where you want to drive this car.

Run test problems.

Once you’ve defined the problem it’s time to do some test problems. Launch a pilot project with open source software to see if you’re on the right track in how you or your team have chosen to approach this problem.

This will give you a much more educated picture of this project’s actual software requirements, and may give you some ideas about future projects, too. This will also tell you whether additional software is even required. It’s possible you might derive a great answer from open source software. If you do, your right-sized investment could be “zero dollars and zero cents.”

Remember the most important rule of choosing predictive analytics software.

Finally, guard yourself against overzealous software sales reps by remembering an important truth. The tool is never better than the analyst using it. If an analyst can’t select which techniques and algorithms apply best to the problem then there isn’t a software package in the world capable of truly helping your business.

Ready to become a better analyst? Sign up for a TMA training course now, and get ready to create an outstanding data strategy for your organization!

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