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Applications for Mining the Talk

Although the number of possible different applications for unstructured mining is virtually limitless, we will explore in-depth applications that fall into five major categories.

Customer Interaction

This is the mining of information coming from unstructured interactions between representatives of the business and customers. It is one of the most common forms of information that nearly every business possesses. This kind of information is good for providing insights into your current processes, what's working and what's not, and identifying areas of potential cost reduction or quality improvement.

Voice of the Customer

This type of mining also involves the customer, or potential customer, but the difference is there is no direct dialog with the business. This includes mining of customer monologues available from surveys, discussion forums, or web logs. This kind of information is useful for discovering what your customers think about you and about your industry. It can provide ideas for improving your products, burnishing your image, or inventing innovative new service offerings.

Voice of the Employee

In this area, the information comes from internal surveys, suggestion boxes, employee discussion events, or open employee forums. This data can provide the business with valuable insight into the collective consciousness of the organization. Such insight can help set a company's vision or generate new ideas for innovation. The results of this kind of mining may help bring disparate groups of the company together to collaborate on new projects and opportunities.

Improving Innovation

Mining the Talk to improve innovation involves looking at both internal and publicly available information sources to find potential ways to innovate through partnering with other businesses. The patent literature is one good source to look for potential opportunities for cross licensing or joint development programs. This data can also be mined to gauge the potential viability of new technologies or product offerings.

Seeing the Future

The ability to see a little bit further ahead than your competition is a crucial competitive advantage. Mining a wide spectrum of publicly available unstructured information sources over time can help the business spot important product and technology trends as they emerge. It can also help in gaining time to react to emerging external events before they become major business catastrophes.

Figure 1-4 shows how the application areas described in the remaining chapters of this book cover the business ecosystem.

Figure 1-4

Figure 1-4 Application areas by chapter

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