Enabling businesses to find and pull data out of letters, applications and
even contracts gave the SAS Text Miner the edge in the Data Mining and
Business Intelligence category in the annual Datamation Product of the Year
“A tremendous percentage of the data that business people have to work with
— the great majority of it – is in textual form,” says David Folger, a vice
president with industry analyst firm Meta Group. “You really need some way
of dealing with that information.”
And meeting that business need helped the SAS Text Miner beat out its
SAS, a major business intelligence company based in Cary, N.C., grabbed the
category’s top spot with nearly half the vote, with Cognos’ BI Series 7 software finishing second. Other finalists were Corvu Corp.’s HyperVu, dfPower Studio 5.0 from DataFlux Corp. (an SAS company) and digiMine Inc.’s Customer Segment Manager.
What sets the Text Miner apart is its ability to handle textual information.
Businesses receive a seemingly endless volume of text-based information
every day. It rolls into an office in the form of emails, resumes, memos,
sales notes, customer feedback and medical records. In most cases, there
simply aren’t enough people on staff to comb through each document and put
the information in spreadsheets and structured databases, especially in this
economy with layoffs and cutbacks greatly outweighing any news of new hires.
That information is often lost in the flood. Wasted.
But SAS designed the Text Miner to find themes and concepts woven into large
documents. It automatically groups documents into topical clusters and
classifies the material into predefined categories. It’s even designed to
integrate textual data with structured data to enrich the company’s business
“Text Miner lets you find patterns in a document, like a fancy version of a
search engine in some ways,” notes Meta Group’s Folger. “It doesn’t handle
[structured information] but it integrates with it, and the rest of SAS’s
product line does handle it… Text Miner brings the two worlds together.”
Randy Collica, a senior business/data mining analyst with Hewlett-Packard,
says Text Miner was able to help him search for themes and concepts in a
wide range of documents. HP beta tested Text Miner, and while one division
of the hardware giant already has bought it, Collica says at least one other
division is considering buying Text Miner.
“It really seemed to work out fairly nicely,” says Collica, who has used
the data mining tool on and off for about a year and a half, mainly in his
B2B and consumer-side call centers. “It can pick up different topics and
different themes. I was trying to look for different types of product themes
— things related to storage. It was able to pick up information — gigabytes
and disc space — and know that they’re all part of a central theme.”
Collica says he also used SAS Text Miner to check on customer satisfaction
and nip complaints and problems in the bud.
“They were looking for customers who had been dissatisfied or had issues
with a call center agent, and we were able to parse out which customers had
problems,” says Collica. “If you had to do it by hand, that’s a lot of
work. Using Text Miner, we could go through them quickly and put them in
categories of issues that might need to be brought up quickly.”