Customer Data Mining
* Which mailings/drops should comprise the analysis file?
* Should a single- or multiple-model strategy be employed?
* What should be predicted; that is, what is the definition of the dependent variable(s)?
* Of all the possible permutations of data elements in the marketing database, which should be included as potential predictor variables?
* For each potential predictor, does the statistical relationship to the dependent variable make ongoing business sense?
Also, make sure the group you work with maintains a collegial atmosphere with a clear path for career advancement. Stagnation can be a problem with small groups. Thinking can become in-bred. Such environments encourage a perverse sort of self-selection, where those with the best analytical minds grow restive and start looking for other employment. This is less of a problem with larger in-house departments and the best of the independent data mining companies, where a steady stream of diverse projects keeps advancing the collective knowledge.
Jim Wheaton is a co-founder and principal at Wheaton Group, a data mining and decision sciences practice based in Chicago. He can be reached at (919) 969-8859 or by e-mail at jim.wheaton@wheaton group.com.