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Data Mining Research - EPFL forum: leitmotif "business intelligence"

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Friday, October 12, 2007

EPFL forum: leitmotif "business intelligence"

I recently went to the company forum of my campus at EPFL. I have a post about a similar event last year. This year, several companies were present including Microsoft and Google. Google was giving a presentation but no interview. If you want to apply for a job at Google, you have to submit through their website. I think this is quite normal since they receive around 3000 job offers each day. Other companies were also present: Cambridge Technology Partners, McKinsey, Cross-Systems, ELCA, blue-infinity, etc. It was the occasion to meet people from the industry and see actual job offers. Of course, I was mainly interested by jobs in data mining. I thus spend two days meeting different companies to see what they do in data mining.

First of all, none of the present companies were specialized in data mining. However, some of them put the term data mining in their presentation sheet. After discussing with these companies, it seems that they mostly do business intelligence and not data mining. They work with a lot of data and need to manipulate them. The information obtained is used for supporting decision. For that, they use data warehouses, OLAP techniques, etc. This is what business intelligence is about: gather, access, manipulate and visualize data.

This was not a surprise. Most companies are at the step were they do business intelligence but no data mining. Only a few companies (regarding the total number of companies) really exploit the possible benefits of data mining. However, I was surprised by the use of tools such as Cognos. I asked many companies involved in consulting and business intelligence about the tools they use. Most of them responded with Cognos and BO (Business Objects). So Cognos seems to be well known, at least in the French part of Switzerland. The question is: how many of these companies use Cognos not only for business intelligence but for data mining as well?

Although I cannot answer this question, I can conclude that the leitmotif of computer science companies in this annual event was business intelligence. The most often cited product that they use was Cognos. Of course a lot of companies worldwide either work in or use data mining. However, it seems that not much of them are present in Lausanne or Geneva.

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