29 January 2015


Wisdom of Crowds: The Guiding Light

Wisdom of Crowds

Have you ever felt like a unicorn? Well, I certainly have. I felt that way when I got my first computer, then again when I filled in my first Excel spreadsheet, and even when I built my first RapidMiner process. I felt like the only person on the planet with a problem and no knowledge on where to begin solving the problem. But this feeling never lasted very long. Why?  Because there’s always been friends, colleagues, tech support and simply people I knew who had gone through similar situations, and provided me with useful tips to get me started. All of us have experienced this numerous times – as a child learning, in our professional careers, even in sports.

With advanced analytics, it can be very similar experience if you have the right tool. The core decisions to be made when building an analytical workflow in its simplest form, is selecting a next step, and then selecting options for the next step.

This process of selecting and defining the parameters necessary for a complete workflow looks easy when a tool has limited functionality and very few options. But you don’t build a house with just a hammer. Don’t be fooled by vendors who’ll sell you an “x” to use as a “y” [now fighting back the urge here to name names.]  What you really need is a wide breadth of functionality combined with intuitive guidance to ensure with the highest degree – that the path you’re on – is the right one. RapidMiner provides both.

The Guiding Light

RapidMiner gives you that community experience. There are more than 250,000 RapidMiner users worldwide, brilliant minds who have had tasks similar to yours – building some analytical process to come up with a predictive model to support business, just as an example. You don’t know any of them? No worries, that’s where technology innovation comes in: just like Amazon shows recommendations for products based on what other people have bought, RapidMiner delivers recommendations to you on what to do next based on what other RapidMiner users have done in similar situations.

Since version 6.1, RapidMiner Studio has shown recommendations on what operator to add to your process as a next step. This was only the beginning as we have committed to adding more and more features that leverage the Wisdom of Crowds, i.e. the knowledge, experiences and best practices of RapidMiner users. We continue on that path in the next release of RapidMiner Studio which will feature an improvement of the operator recommender introduced in 6.1. By focusing on the particular part of the process a user is working on, we have drastically improved the recommendations. The recommendations are not only extremely helpful for beginners but for advanced users allowing them to build their processes much faster. In addition, we have also compiled a completely new feature that guides users in setting the parameters for an operator by recommending what others have specified.

Crowd Control

Nothing attracts a crowd, like a crowd.  Several years in the making, RapidMiner’s Wisdom of Crowds has grown from a powerful idea embraced by an enthusiastic open source community to highly differentiating recommendations engine on a commercial scale.  Our early innovation in this arena is now being echoed by other industry thought leaders, with a special shout out to GoodData, who just introduced Insights As A Service, a Wisdom of Crowds-like capability now a part of their BI platform.  Stay tuned this year as our Wisdom of Crowds recommendation engine continues to expand its intelligence quotient, helping business analysts with easier and faster guidance on building powerful advanced analytics. 

On a final note, I find RapidMiner’s Wisdom of Crowds features particularly thrilling as it uses our own analytics and machine learning to help our RapidMiner community to come up with analytics for their very own domains. Check out our latest installment of Five Minutes with Ingo to see how!

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