In my January column, I discussed the trend in business intelligence (BI) to support unstructured as well as structured data. Statistical software vendors, long the bastion of structured data analysis, are early proponents of expanding the scope of analysis to include free-form text. Now that we have data mining, text mining and other BI tools at our disposal, how do we get started?
The first step is obvious: identify a business issue that lends itself to structured analysis, such as customer reaction to a new product line or assessment of customer comments in call centers. For the first project, look at quantifiable questions, such as how many customers complained about shipping delays or how many customers commented positively on the quality of their purchase. To keep things manageable, limit the scope to free- form text collected along with structured data survey results, call center records or customer relationship management (CRM) databases.
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