February 1, 2007

Communicating Data Mining Results

A challenge that faces almost every fundraising analytics professional is explaining models and analysis for non-technical front line staff. I generally use analogies and stories liberally. By comparing a propensity model to a credit score, or comparing the incorporation of many independent variables to TVs with more pixels, I find it easier to get over the deployment hurdles.

A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink is a must read for all data miners. Andrew Sallee of William Jewell College pointed it out to me as we were discussing statistics at the SPSS users forum. We couldn't help but notice the varied backgrounds of analytics professionals. From our anecdotal observations, these backgrounds seemed heavy in the arts. This book will shed some light on not only the personalities predisposed to discovery, but also techniques for telling the story.

This article, "Science-speak 101: Researchers sometimes need help to explain complex work in simple terms" might also shed some light on the matter.

Some business counselors urge scientists to use allegories, metaphors and everyday images to make their technology understandable. "I don't want to say they should dumb down their stories, but that's what it amounts to sometimes," said Mark Long, president and chief executive of IU Research & Technology Corp., which runs a life-sciences business incubator near Downtown Indianapolis.

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