PLATFORMS: Intelligent Miner runs on AIX on a 5-node RS/6000 SP. Analyses are performed from Intelligent Miner clients on Windows NT.

BACKGROUND: Loyalty Consulting, a subsidiary of The Loyalty Group, Canada, provides decision support consulting services for the Loyalty Group's coalition loyalty program, for the sponsors in the program and for other Fortune 500 companies.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Intelligent Miner serves as the core technology for Loyalty Consulting's data mining services for clients in finance, retail, telecommunications and other industries. We exploit Intelligent Miner's full range of data mining capabilities to help our clients acquire more intimate knowledge of their customers, predict customer behavior and find the most cost-effective way to influence that behavior. Most importantly, Intelligent Miner meets our clients' key criterion for data mining: the ability to deliver measurable results, such as increased revenues and lower selling costs.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Intelligent Miner provides a wide range of algorithms for clustering (both demographic and neural), classification (tree induction and neural induction), value prediction, association discovery, sequential pattern discovery and predictive modeling.

STRENGTHS: With Intelligent Miner, we have found that we can build better data mining models than we can with other tools. This is because Intelligent Miner offers a broad range of data mining algorithms which can be combined to provide greater value to our clients. Using Intelligent Miner, we recently saved a client approximately $1 million in mailing costs in a single targeted direct mail application. Intelligent Miner also has a very strong API library, which allows us to create customized models. The product is standards based and very scalable. It can process huge volumes of data. At Loyalty Consulting, we have an IBM DB2 Universal Database on our RS/6000 SP, which we use to build data warehouses that support large data mining projects for our clients.

WEAKNESSES: We are looking for a more friendly user interface. We are evaluating Intelligent Miner Version 2, which offers a more icon-based GUI. The interface includes SmartGuides, which help even a first-time user master the various functions. We also need some way to string together several mining operations in a single mining "object." Version 2 will allow us to do this with repeatable sequences and portable mining bases. Our analysts will be able to design mining sequences on one system, then easily transport them to the client's system where they can be invoked with the click of an icon.

SELECTION CRITERIA: The maturity of the tool and the algorithms on which it is based were key. The algorithms in Intelligent Miner have been proven over many years, which increases our confidence in the results, especially when clients use these results as the basis for multimillion-dollar marketing campaigns. In addition, Intelligent Miner was the only tool that we were confident in using to mine against very large databases.

VENDOR SUPPORT: For Loyalty Consulting, IBM's standing behind the product carries a lot of weight. The expertise of their research team and developers is reassuring, and this has been demonstrated by the improvements that they are already incorporating in the product. IBM consultants helped us come up to speed in using Intelligent Miner.

DOCUMENTATION: It comes complete with technical and user manuals. An 800 number is available for additional technical support from IBM.

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