We all want easy to use data mining tools, not least because the techniques they employ tend to be complex. Listed below is five of the easiest to use data mining tools, from cloud based services (bigML) through to Microsoft’s own data mining add-in. But a word of caution is needed. Generating predictive models is easy – just plug in the data and press the ‘go’ button. Making sure they are useful and accurate is another matter completely. So make sure that experts are involved who know the data and the business domain.
Forecaster XL from Alyuda is an Excel add-in implementing neural networks within Excel. It boasts ease-of-use with automatic neural network parameter and architecture selection. Various graphical and analytical displays are provided and the partition of data into training and test sets is straightforward. Moderately priced at US$197 for a single user (US$997 for unlimited site), it is a low cost method of exploring the use of neural networks within an Excel setting.
11Ants Model Builder is a user friendly Microsoft Excel add-on that can be used with a minimum of training and will quickly identify predictive patterns in data. Most of the action is behind the scenes and the software will automatically home in on the most productive data mining methods. 11Ants Model Builder supports decision tree, Gaussian processes, logistic regression, Naïve Bayes, nearest neighbour, random forest and support vector machine – amongst others. Marketing solutions are offered for customer churn and customer response predictive analysis. Again the primary model development is accomplished in a Microsoft Excel environment, and models can then be deployed to enterprise databases using 11Ants Predictor.
BigML is a cloud based service for creating predictive models, and comes with a very user friendly interface. The process is presented in an easy-to-use format with just four steps:
- Upload data
- Create a dataset from the data
- Create a model
- Make predictions on new data by scoring the data
There is plenty of graphical support for analyzing the data and looking at the properties of models. Users can start with ‘one click’ model generation and as skills are acquired use more sophisticated techniques.
Data.Mining.Fox (DMF) from easydatamining is a free data mining tool that hides much of the background complexity. The interface takes users through several well defined steps from data import through to predictions based on new data. There is considerable sophistication in this product, including the use of innovative mathematical algorithms which employ a combination of support vector machine, multivariate decision trees, genetic algorithms and linear regression. The algorithm and parameter selection is fully automatic, so no knowledge is required of the underlying methods. The whole environment is wizard driven and with a little persistence users will be able to create their own predictive Models.
If your organization uses Microsoft SQL Server, and specifically SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS), then an add-in is available for Excel called the Data Mining Add-in which supports the creation of data mining models with Excel – it’s very powerful too.