Data mining is the process of examining a data set to extract certain patterns. Companies use this process to determine the outcome of their existing goals. They summarize this information into useful methods of generating income and / or cutting costs. When search engines open, they start building lists of links from the first page that opens. It continues this process throughout the site until it reaches the main page. These data contain not only text, but also figures and facts.
Data mining focuses on consumers in relation to both “internal” (price, product positioning) and “external” (competition, demographics) factors that help determine consumer price, customer satisfaction and corporate profits. It also provides a link between individual transactions and analytical systems. Data mining looks for four types of relationships:
o Classes – information used to attract more visitors
o Clusters – grouped to determine consumer preferences or logical relationships
o Associations – used to group products that are normally bought together (e.g. bacon, eggs; milk, bread)
o Patterns – used to anticipate behavioral trends
This process offers numerous benefits to companies, governments, society and especially individuals as a whole. It starts with a cleaning process that removes errors and ensures consistency. Algorithms are then used to “mine” the data to establish patterns. With all the new technology, there are positive and negative sides. One negative issue that emerges from the process is privacy. Although it is against the law, the sale of personal information has taken place over the Internet. Companies must obtain certain personal information in order to conduct their business properly. The problem is that the existing security systems do not protect this information sufficiently.
From a customer’s point of view, data mining benefits businesses more than their interests. Their personal information is there, possibly unprotected, and there is nothing they can do until a negative problem arises. On the other hand, from the business side, it helps improve the overall operations and improve customer satisfaction. With regard to government, they use personal data to tighten security systems and protect the public from terrorism; however, they also want to protect people’s privacy rights. With countless servers, databases and websites out there, it is getting more and more difficult to enforce stricter laws. The more information we introduce on the internet, the more likely someone will hack this data.
Better security systems need to be developed before data mining can really benefit all parties involved. Invasion of privacy can ruin people’s lives. It may take months, even years, to regain a level of trust that our personal information will be protected. Benefits aside, the safety and wellbeing of every human being should be the top priority.