we found out that a particular client is using THREE Data Mining softwares. Not statistical softwares or the base versions, but the complete, very expensive Data Mining softwares – SAS EM, SPSS Clementine and KXEN.I believe there are truly good reasons to have more than one data mining software package. Each tool has its own strengths and weaknesses. As one example, Affinium Model is very good at building hundreds or even thousands of models automatically, whereas Tibco S+ (formerly Insightful Miner) only builds one model at a time. On the other hand, the flexibility of Miner in data preparation, sampling, and settings for building models is much richer than Model. I like to have several tools around for these kind of reasons.
I was like, “Wow!!! But do you really need 3 Data Mining softwares???” Our initial questions and the client’s answers confirmed that inconsistent data formats was not the reason as the client already has a BI/DW system. Their reason? Well, they have the opinion that some algorithms/techniques in a particular DM software is much better and accurate than the same algorithms/techniques in another DM software.
A second reason to have (or to be proficient in) multiple tools as an analytics consultant is that you can plug into nearly any organization if they have tools they want you to use. Currently, I'm working on projects that are using Clementine, Matlab, Statistica, and Insightful Miner. Last year I worked with a customer that was using CART (Salford Systems) and Oracle Data Miner, Polyanalyst, and even briefly IBM Intelligent Miner.
However, except for very rare circumstances, the algorithms themselves are not appreciably different from tool to tool. Yes I know that some tools have extra knobs and options, but backprop is backprop, the Gini index is the Gini index, Entropy is Entropy. The only reason I would have both KXEN and SAS/EM or Clementine is if I wanted the automation of KXEN sometimes, and the full control of of EM or Clementine (it is hard for me to imagine why I would want both Clementine and EM--any takers on this one?).