Data mining opportunities for small and mid companies

The following article is also published on my new website.

There is a famous anecdote about research done by Wal-Mart about how upcoming hurricane impacts their customers’ purchases (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/14/business/yourmoney/what-walmart-knows-about-customers-habits.html).

We didn’t know in the past that strawberry Pop-Tarts increase in sales, like seven times their normal sales rate, ahead of a hurricane

Ms. Dillman

Wal-Mart is a real giant. It is not surprising that marketing guys working there spend big bucks on data mining so why smaller companies would bother?

3D render of battle in a virtual world / Digital war concept or attackThe answer is: because they can afford, they can benefit from it, there are right tools to be used and people who know how to use them.

To be fair, that is what I love about IT – it allows small businesses to grow, it allows new companies to pop up in areas unreachable for them few years in the past. Think how IT technologies enabled companies around the globe reaching the “long tail” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_tail).

The other reason for small and mid companies to consider data mining is that the data is already there. In most of the cases you do not have to run expensive researches and queries. As more and more of operations are handled by computers, there is relatively little effort involved with getting this data ready for data mining. In addition, the storage is really cheap which makes data acquisition even cheaper and more available. In fact, I have seen very small companies collecting gigabytes (sometimes more) of data and not appreciating the great opportunities.

And the tools! There are many decent tools out there – some of them available for FREE (amazing Weka platform by University of Waikato  in New Zeland – http://www.cs.waikato.ac.nz/ml/weka/ or R – https://www.r-project.org).

If you represent a small to mid enterprise and you think you can benefit from data mining – give me a buzz.