We recently asked our colleague Bruce Johnson, a data mining expert with over 20 years of experience in the field, if having a data warehouse is a prerequisite to data mining.

We thought Bruce’s answer was pragmatic, and wanted to share it:

“A central repository is not a prerequisite to data mining. The first predictive analytics project is often a proof of concept, and it does not require a huge investment in upfront infrastructure. Data mining can deliver quick wins.  The results of preliminary data mining efforts often bring very tangible value to the firm.”

Bruce went on to say:

“However, the process of creating the first models usually reveals certain pain points for the business. In the course of doing the work, you learn some practical lessons about the data that exists in the enterprise.  If there are data management challenges, this may help to define the analytics use cases for a central data repository. Thus the data mining project, when not preceded by a data mart or data warehouse, may create an even stronger business case for the data warehouse effort.”

We know that data mining can seem like a daunting challenge at first, but Bruce’s insights help to underscore that you can start slowly, and build internal expertise and technology infrastructure over time. Beyond the Arc is a big fan of this incremental approach.