Data Mining and Data Analysis: 4 Key Differences

on Data Analysis, Data Analytics, data mining, Data Mining • May 20th, 2022 • Write for Hevo

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Organizations that make decisions based on big data now have a significant competitive edge in solving challenges and planning for the future. Data is at the center of decision-making across departments and roles in the dynamic market. Today, to make better decisions, data mining and data analysis are widely employed with varied definitions. The two words appear to have become interchangeable in the data community at large. However, data analysis is an exploratory process that frequently begins with explicit queries, whereas data mining is primarily characterized by existing data rather than data obtained, especially for research.

In this article, we will understand what is meant by the terms ‘data mining’ and ‘data analysis,’ the basic steps involved in either process, and the critical differences between them.

Table of Contents:

  1. Prerequisites
  2. What is Data Analysis?
  3. Stages of Data Analysis
  4. What is Data Mining?
  5. Stages of Data Mining
  6. Key Differences between Data Mining and Data Analysis
    1. Data Mining and Data Analysis: Purpose
    2. Data Mining and Data Analysis: Data Structure
    3. Data Mining and Data Analysis: Forecasting
    4. Data Mining and Data Analysis: Visualization Tools
  7. Conclusion


Basics of Big Data

What is Data Analysis?

data mining and data analysis - key differences
Image Source: Information Age

Data analysis entails focusing more on evaluating past data in context to answer queries raised for improved managerial decision-making. Data analysis includes cleaning, manipulating, modeling, and evaluating data in order to discover relevant information. This technique aids in reducing the risks involved with decision-making by obtaining relevant insights and data, which are often displayed in charts, illustrations, tables, and graphs.

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Stages of Data Analysis

Data Analysis has the following phases:

  • Discovery: Establish a context and knowledge, analyze the data and look into the problem associated with the data. In this stage, data analysts question the problem the company is trying to solve, identify measurable factors, and plan how to measure them.
  • Data preparation: During the course of the project an analytics sandbox is established to finish the analytical process. In the sandbox, several activities such as extraction, transformation, and data updating are completed.
  • Modeling: Next, datasets are developed for a variety of objectives, including training, testing, and production. You can start to uncover patterns, correlations, outliers, and changes in the data by altering it using various data analysis tools and methodologies. Using machine learning-powered algorithms, you can find trends in databases or data visualization tools to help translate data into an understandable graphical representation in this stage.
  • Interpretation: You can interpret your findings to determine how effectively the data addressed your original query. What conclusions can you draw from the information? What constraints do your conclusions have?
  • Communicate outcomes: Post analysis, data analysts engage stakeholders to communicate the findings.

What is Data Mining?

data mining and data analysis - Key differences
Image Source: Woz U

The practice of detecting patterns in a pre-built database is known as data mining. Also known as knowledge discovery in databases, or KDD, it does database analysis to examine existing databases and large datasets in order to transform raw data into meaningful information and uncover trends and patterns.

In other words, it collects patterns and knowledge from existing data, recognizing valid, new, and possibly helpful facts and trends in data to solve issues through analysis of otherwise dispersed data. 

Once the connections within huge datasets have been established, this information is fed into areas like business intelligence and analytics to help people comprehend massive, complicated datasets in a variety of sectors. It hunts for fresh, valuable, and non-trivial knowledge to provide useful information by identifying hidden patterns.

Stages of Data Mining

The various stages in the data mining process involve:

  • Data collection: Data that is relevant to an analytics application is identified and gathered. The data might be in many source systems, a data warehouse, or a data lake, which is becoming increasingly popular in big data environments with a mix of structured and unstructured data.
  • Preparation of data: This stage consists of a series of activities like data exploration and pre-processing, followed by data cleansing to correct mistakes and other data quality concerns. Overall, here raw data is collected from a variety of sources and turned into a common format that can be processed and analyzed.
  • Data extraction: After the data has been prepared, the data is mined using appropriate data mining algorithms. Before being run on the entire set of data in machine learning applications, the algorithms must often be trained on sample data sets to hunt for the information being sought. Some of these algorithms are:
    • Association Learning: An association learning rule is sometimes used to determine the link between variables in a dataset. 
    • Classification: A classification approach divides a data set’s objects or variables into preset groups or classes. In data mining, it employs linear programming, statistics, decision trees, and artificial neural networks.
    • Clustering: The clustering approach produces meaningful item groupings with similar properties. Unlike classification, which assigns things to predetermined classifications, clustering assigns objects to classes that it creates.
    • Prediction: The link between independent and dependent variables, as well as independent variables alone, is predicted using the prediction approach.
    • K-nearest neighbor (KNN): The KNN algorithm, also known as K-nearest neighbor, is a non-parametric method that classifies data points based on their proximity and relationship with other available data.
  • Data interpretation and analysis: Data scientists can examine any intriguing data relationships, such as sequential patterns, association rules, or correlations, depending on the type of research. The results of data mining are used to develop analytical models that can aid in decision-making and other commercial activities. The results are conveyed to business leaders and users, which is commonly accomplished using data visualization and data storytelling methodologies.

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Key Differences between Data Mining and Data Analysis

Data Mining and Data Analysis: Purpose

Data analysis necessitates employing technologies to conduct analysis and draw hypotheses that will aid in the making of data-driven decisions. On the other hand, data mining is the process of uncovering hidden patterns in raw data using complex machine learning algorithms in order to make precise decisions.

Data Mining and Data Analysis: Data Structure

The majority of data mining research is mostly performed on structured data. This is crucial as a data mining expert creates algorithms to find a pattern in the data that can then be analyzed. It is built on mathematical and scientific ideas, so having structured data at your disposal ensures data clarity and accuracy for further research. The data might be as basic as a few numeric values or as complicated as a matrix containing millions of observations and hundreds of variables. The ultimate goal of data mining is to come up with possibly valuable findings that analysts may act on.

Data analytics, on the other hand, can be performed on structured, semi-structured, or unstructured data. Data analysts are also not in charge of developing algorithms like a data mining expert. Instead, they must analyze the data patterns and draw inferences. The insights gained are then used in future organizational plans.

Data Mining and Data Analysis: Forecasting 

Data mining aids businesses in gaining a historical perspective and comprehending the current situation. However, data analysis plays a proactive role in allowing users to predict outcomes and establish preventative solutions for a variety of future scenarios while averting disasters.

It is crucial to acknowledge that, despite their differences, they are interrelated high-tech processes. Data analytics would not have been possible without data mining since there would be no way to obtain data patterns for subsequent predictions. Data mining would be useless without data analytics, as the sheer availability of structured data without a subsequent action plan is not a very helpful tool.

Data Mining and Data Analysis: Visualization Tools

Visualization tools such as bar charts, graphs, and GIPs are typically not included in data mining. Data analysis, on the other hand, is always driven by the visualization of results, since without a proper representation of the data, all of the effort put into data analysis would be for naught.


Both data analysis and data mining practices are already ubiquitous and essential in the majority of enterprises. They are used by business decision-makers to improve consumer experiences, increase sales, and reduce risk. While the usage of data analysis and data mining are interdependent, recognizing the major distinctions between the two may help businesses get the most out of these technologies.

Data analytics seeks to answer questions or solve business problems by taking the deliverables from the data mining process and creating the whole data model for the stakeholders. By testing hypotheses, data analysis strives to produce irrefutable insights that a business can use to make better decisions.

Data mining, on the other hand, does not often give answers; rather, it enhances a dataset and applies algorithms to make it usable for other data analysis and machine learning activities. It also extracts valuable information from it in order to uncover patterns and trends.

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