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News recap: Survey spotlights top data mining tools

This news recap looks at survey data on top data mining tools and a report on the degree to which executives trust analytic findings.

Software from advanced analytics vendor RapidMiner is the most commonly used data mining tool by analysts, according to results from a new survey by the online data mining community KDnuggets.

More than 44% of the 3,000 data analysts who responded said they use software from RapidMiner. Respondents also showed growing interest in the R programming language. With 38.5% of survey takers saying they use R, it was the second most commonly used tool.

The results also showed the persistence of Microsoft Excel as a data analysis tool. It was the third most commonly used software with 25.8% of the vote. Excel is slipping though, as that number is down from 28% last year. As analytic needs grow more complex, organizations are looking for tools that have multiple functions and offer more descriptive visualizations.

Interestingly, for all the hype Hadoop receives, it only ranked as the eighth most commonly used big data tool, with just 12.7% of respondents saying they use it. However, that number is up from 9.3% last year.

In a blog post accompanying the survey results, KDnuggets president Gregory Piatetsky said the results, particularly the low adoption of Hadoop, show that the most advanced big data technologies are mainly being used at a small group of web giants and isn't likely relevant to smaller organizations. However, as advanced tools become simpler and more affordable, this may change.

Intuition still clouds executives' decisions

The benefits of data-driven decision making are clearer, but many top executives still rely on their gut instincts. A new report conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by Applied Predictive Technologies shows that many top company officials still don't trust analytic findings.

The report, which was based on surveys of 174 business executives in various industries, shows that 57% of executives will reanalyze analytic findings if it doesn't comport with their gut instinct. Only 42% of executives said they are truly data-driven.

The main reason for executives not relying on analytic findings is not lack of access to data, as some commentators have proposed. Instead, the report shows that many executives simply don't know what to do with data.

"Whilst many business leaders know they need to make better use of data, it's clear that they don't always know how best to do so," Jim Manzi, founder and chairman of Applied Predictive Technologies, wrote in the report.

Weekly dataviz

The ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq are complicated and tracking all the players is difficult. Some folks at the news site Thinkprogress.org recently unveiled an informative dataviz to help you see the various interactions between all the groups. The graphic displays groups that are engaged in conflict and groups that are helping each other monetarily or through weapons and troops. Take a look here to get caught up on the situation.

Ed Burns is site editor of SearchBusinessAnalytics. Email him at eburns@techtarget.comand follow him on Twitter: @EdBurnsTT.

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