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Where to start with analytics?


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One of my google alerts pointed me to this thread on Oracle’s discussion forums OTN Discussion Forums : Text Mining Dictionary …. I got the alert because one of friends at Oracle responded to the question “Where to Start?” by quoting the book (Smart (Enough) Systems) I wrote with Neil Raden:

Wrong: Catalog everything you have, and decide what data is important.

Right: Work backward from the solution, define the problem explicitly, and map out the data needed to populate the investigation and models.

This was one of Neil’s bon mots and I was glad to be reminded of it. With analytics – executable analytics, business analytics, predictive analytics or any other kind of analytics – begin with the decision in mind. Figure out what it is you are trying to do, which decision you are trying to improve and work into your analytics and data from there. Be driven by your business needs, not by the data you have. You may find that you don’t need to integrate this data source or clean that one to improve the decisions that drive your business. You may find that you don’t even own the data you need and will need to go shopping for it. But if you don’t start with the end in mind, you will never know.


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