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One of the most underutilized areas of business intelligence is data mining or predictive analytics as it is often referred to. This is due to the fact that traditional data mining uses a set of complex algorithms, and the tools often require you to be an expert in these algorithms to be able to implement them. Although it is not part of the official Microsoft self-service BI toolset, the set of table analysis tools Microsoft offers for Excel allows you to use data mining algorithms but hide much of the complexity associated with implementing them. Using these table analysis tools for Excel, you can perform advanced data analysis such as forecasting, clustering, and associations. This chapter shows you how to use these tools to implement some common data mining models and gain powerful insight into your data. I should mention, however, that to implement the table analysis tools, you need to be able to connect to an instance of SQL Server Analysis Server (SSAS), which provides the engine to run the algorithms.
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