A golden vein
Jun 10th 2004
From The Economist print edition
Computing: Analysis of customer information, better known as “data mining”, is finally delivering on its promises—and expanding into some promising new areas
IN THE old days, knowing your customers was part and parcel of running a business, a natural consequence of living and working in a community. But for today's big firms, it is much more difficult: a big retailer such as Wal-Mart has no chance of knowing every single one of its customers. So the idea of gathering huge amounts of information and analysing it to pick out trends indicative of customers' wants and needs—data mining—has long been trumpeted as a way to return to the intimacy of a small-town general store.