REVIEWER: Stephan Kudyba, president of Null Sigma Inc.

BACKGROUND: Null Sigma provides consulting services to firms across industry sectors that focus on productivity-enhancing applications through the use of data mining and decision support technology. Null Sigma provides innovative predictive data mining solutions which can enhance the efficiency of business processes by identifying key drivers of performance measures. By identifying reliable patterns and relationships among variables in corporate data with the use of state-of-the-art analytic technology, the company helps improve the bottom-line performance across functional areas of organizations.

PLATFORMS: Currently, Insightful Miner runs on Windows 2000/XP/NT.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Null Sigma helps organizations manage their risk and reduce their uncertainty over a variety of business processes, some of which include customer relationship, supply chain and employee management along with general forecasting. Insightful Miner helps predict customer behavior, optimize operational systems, maximize product performance and improve business intelligence enterprise-wide. It provides an affordable alternative to existing and more costly technologies which can be saddled with large start-up expenditures and numerous step-up fees. Insightful Corporation's new mining technology enables users to handle simple and complex corporate projects with its powerful, easy-to-use, scalable capabilities in a cost-effective way. The product offers full-featured support for every step of the data mining process that is critical for data miners in any industry. In addition to being a robust and cost-effective tool, Insightful Miner is easy to learn and, most importantly, easy to use. It has a modern visual interface so users can become productive quickly. Insightful Miner has a unique "block model averaging" technique that scales its data preprocessing components and algorithms to handle extremely large datasets. The software features a robust portfolio of algorithms (including clustering, regression, neural nets and segmentation methodologies) along with supportive EDA components that quickly separate those variables that have predictive power from those that can be ignored. It also works with a variety of data sources such as SAS files, database formats or general flat files which helps simplify the mining process.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Insightful Miner simplifies building predictive models and working with very large datasets. The technology supports the entire data mining life cycle and is self-documenting. Every customer situation is unique, and the flexibility of this product helps facilitate those needs. Its open-ended architecture works with major databases and file formats, and its features can be extended with the S language to handle more complex modeling requirements. Tightly integrated components handle the data preparation/cleansing, modeling, assessment and deployment tasks efficiently.

STRENGTHS: At a fraction of the price of other data mining products, Insightful Miner offers great price/performance in the data mining market. Additional strengths include the ability to handle large data sets; it is easy to learn and use so data miners can become productive quickly; essential data mining algorithms and advanced analytic methods are included; and it was developed by a leading data analysis company known for delivering cutting-edge techniques and precise, proven analytics.

WEAKNESSES: Currently, Insightful Miner Desktop Edition does not offer a UNIX-based client/server solution. However, I've been told that Insightful will be releasing its Enterprise Edition that will support this platform.

SELECTION CRITERIA: I selected this product because it offers one of the best price/performance tools available for both experienced modelers and new data miners. The product has the essential components required for tackling the various business applications in the field. It is easy to use and intuitive. The software allows the user to map out processes easily so they can conduct multiple analytic approaches in the same project space and can resume previously started analyses.

DELIVERABLES: Insightful Miner Desktop Edition enables users to score data sets directly, or it can be called from a batch process.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The vendor has been very supportive and responsive. The sales team has been extremely helpful and provides informative answers to my questions.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation complements the product.

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