The first objective of the analyst is to thoroughly understand, from a business perspective, what the client really wants to accomplish. Often the customer has many competing objectives and constraints that must be properly balanced. The analyst’s goal is to uncover important factors at the beginning of the project that can
influence the final outcome. A likely consequence of neglecting this step would be to expend a great deal of effort producing the correct answers to the wrong questions.
Activities: Problem area (200 words)
Identify the problem area (e.g., Marketing, Customer Care, Business Development, etc.). Describe the problem in general terms. Check the current status of the project (e.g., Check if it is already clear within the business unit that we are performing a data mining project or do we need to advertise data mining as a key technology in the business?). Clarify prerequisites of the project (e.g., what is the motivation of the project? Does the business already use data mining?). Identify target groups for the project result (e.g., Do we expect a written report for top management or do we expect a running system that is used by naive end users?). Identify the users’ needs and expectations.
Output: Business objectives (100 words)
Describe the customer’s primary objective, from a business perspective, in the data mining project. In addition to the primary business objective, there are typically a large number of related business questions that the customer would like to address. For example, the primary business goal might be to keep current customers by predicting when they are prone to move to a competitor, while secondary business objectives might be to determine whether lower fees affect only one particular segment of customers.
Informally describe the problem which is supposed to be solved with data mining. Specify all business questions as precisely as possible. Specify any other business requirements (e.g., the business does not want to lose any customers). Specify expected benefits in business terms.
Output: Business success criteria (100 words)
Describe the criteria for a successful or useful outcome to the project from the business point of view. This might be quite specific and readily measurable, such as reduction of customer churn to a certain level or general and subjective such as “give useful insights into the relationships.” In the latter case it should be indicated who would make the subjective judgment. Specify business success criteria (e.g., enrolment rate increased by 20 percent). Identify who assesses the success criteria. Each of the success criteria should relate to at least one of the specified business objectives.
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