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Guidance and results for the data-rich, yet information-poor.

Posts Tagged ‘data analytics’

Trick Question: Which Data Points Should Your Organization Be Tracking?

BoromirDataMiningThis is a question which came up during the January 16th session of TMA’s free webinar: Data Mining, Failure to Launch. One of the participants asked data mining gurus Tony and Scott to provide him with a list of data points that his organization should be tracking.

Of course–that couldn’t be done, not in the way the participant was probably hoping for. After all, one simply cannot generalize that kind of list.

Such a list could only be generated after taking a hard look at the project environment, aligning the objectives of the organization’s entire project teams, and exploring the data that is already available.

Nobody can look at your organization and say, “Well, you should definitely be tracking transaction data,” or “You should definitely be zeroing in on all voided transactions.” There is no one-size-fits-all solution because it all relates back to what the data needs to accomplish.

Data mining actually flip-flops the traditional scientific method that every school child learns. And this is often a source of confusion for organizations who are struggling to do a good job handling their data.

In the traditional scientific method you form a hypothesis. Then, you gather data.

But most organizations have already been gathering more data than they know what to do with for a very long time. This is one reason why nobody can just provide organizations with a list called, “The Top 50 Data Points Your Organization Should Be Sure to Track Right Now.”

Chances are, you already have all the data you need, and then some. The challenge is to figure out which of those data points are actually relevant to your objective.

Data which is relevant to tracking fraud, for example, may be 100% irrelevant to data which helps your direct mail campaign become more effective.

Don’t be mesmerized by the data itself. Be laser-focused on problems and priorities.

Then, you can develop your own list–a different list. The list of the Top 10 problems that you’d like to solve or objectives that you’d like to meet.

Now there is a list which would actually be useful.

Would you like to get access to gurus Tony and Scott for your own short free consultation session? Register for the next session of Data Mining: Failure to Launch and bring your most pressing questions.

Are You Overlooking Analytics Because You are a Small Business?

SmallBizIt’s a mistake to overlook the power of data analytics just because you are a small business. If you are gathering data at all (and most businesses do) then you probably have everything you need to launch a profitable project, provided you’ve also identified a good, solid business objective.

Not sure what problems to solve, or how your data can help you? Here are a couple of examples.

  • Do you do direct mail or email marketing? Use data analytics to learn how to make incremental improvements in your response rate.
  • Who are your most profitable customers? What makes them profitable? How can you get more of these customers?
  • Which marketing methods produce the best results? How can you capitalize on this to get better leads for less money?

Of course, you may not have all the data that you need to make some of these determinations. That’s okay. Developing a good strategy and setting the right targets are the most important part of the process. Frankly, you can always buy data, if you really need it.

Why go through all this trouble? Addressing small agencies in the insurance industry, Brian S. Cohen of Property Casualty 360 wrote:

Today, customer acquisition and retention takes place in real time, or close to it. The more information you have about current and potential customers, the better you will be able to address their needs when and where they want it. That’s why you need to embrace data analytics–it gives you the information you need, when you need it.

If you are like most agencies, you’ve already done the hard part by getting rid of your paper files and moving to an electronic agency-management system platform.

Now, you need to start using your data.

What applies to a small, independent insurance agency applies to any other small business just as well. Just make sure that you launch your project correctly by fully understanding the pitfalls and problems that can slow you down or even rob your project of its profitability. If you’re ready to do that, register for TMA’s free webinar: Data Mining, Failure to Launch, today!

Predictive Analytics Tackles a School District’s Enrollment Problems

StudentsThe Forest Grove School district has been losing students, many of them to voluntary transfers. According to Oregon Live, the district is now turning to data mining to figure out the reasons and what they might change to retain these students.

This information will have a direct impact on budget expenditures. The school district is exploring the possibility of spending money on new programs if the data seems to support it.

Enrollment is a matter of revenue for the school district. And students in the state can enroll in different school districts without any special permission or reason.

Of course, this problem has parallels in the business world. You can draw a parallel from “enrollment” to customer retention, for example.

A company could try to track reasons why customers leave and can use that information to adjust their programs, offerings, products and services to try to keep those customers around. If your company is facing similar problems you’re now looking at an excellent case study, and an example of a problem that could be directly applied to your business.

Now you just have to avoid many of the major pitfalls that companies struggle with when they begin data mining projects. You can do this by joining TMA’s next session of “Data Mining: Failure to Launch.” This webinar is an hour long and absolutely free. You’ll also get some free consultation time with some of the best minds in the data mining industry in the webinar’s Q&A section, allowing you to ask specific questions about how you might make data mining work for your organization. Register now.

Data Mining Tackles Literary Analysis

booksIf you can ask the right question data mining can help you find answers in surprising places. Just ask Matthew Jockers, an assistant professor at the University of Lincoln.

The Daily Nebraskan seems an unlikely place to find a story about data mining. A college English Department seems an even more unlikely place. But there it is.

Jockers, an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, uses a type of text analysis called macroanalysis. Instead of focusing on the themes, ideas and concepts of an individual author, macroanalysis compares the individual to the group.

His previous research looked at late 18th and 19th century books, and now he’s looking at more than 50,000 books from the 19th and 20th century. The books are compared to point out similar wording, overarching concepts and other literary trends among individuals, sexes, time periods, regions or demographic groups.

…This information brings to light potential answers to many of the literary world’s questions. Themes and ideas of overarching societies and cultures will be able to be more clearly defined. Companies and writers can even use the information to determine what makes a good book.

This is proof positive that setting a solid target in a creative, strategic way is more important than math. When Jockers needed math he turned to a math professor to get the model set up, but this research would not be happening if he hadn’t first come up with a firm road map of where he wanted to go.

How are your target setting skills? If you’d like to sharpen them so that you can start bringing the benefits of data mining to your organization then it’s time to get started with The Modeling Agency’s free webinar, “Data Mining, Failure to Launch.” What will you do with your data?

Data Mining Helps Dannon Yogurt Increase Market Share

YogurtThe Dannon Company is using data analysis to make excellent business decisions. The company’s data mining efforts were recently featured in this article from FoodNavigationUSA.com.

Like retailers, Dannon uses the data (gathered from store shelves and not directly from consumers) to take the guesswork out of making customers happy.

“Dannon works with retailers across the country to make sure their shelves are filled with the precise product volume and promotion for each store location to meet shopper demand…Through the use of predictive analysis, Dannon is able to understand, plan, and predict their business in ways that were unimaginable a few years ago.”

As the article pointed out, this type of analysis is particularly helpful because yogurt has a very limited shelf life. Success in the yogurt industry therefore means taking advantage of just-in-time supply and delivery. The company must be careful to avoid overstocking and under-stocking, since being too conservative could lose crucial sales.

It’s easy to extrapolate how other companies in the food industry (from suppliers, to food retailers, to restaurants) could benefit from this type of work, since all food has some kind of shelf life. Reducing or preventing waste is always a concern.

Dannon’s success also demonstrates how important it is for each business to isolate and track the right factors. There are a myriad of things you could track and measure, but only some of those parameters will actually lead you to information that will help you make good business decisions.

Good data analysis takes good training. That’s why The Modeling Agency offers a free data analysis webinar as well as a host of other predictive analysis training courses. Better training means better results and an increased data analysis ROI, so sign up today.