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What is Predictive Analytics, and why it matters in business

Predictive analytics is needed to understand the natural world and make accurate predictions about it. It is a data-driven approach that studies how a company and its environment interact as a system. And how it can influence the surrounding environment to achieve the set goals.

There are clear parallels between how data is collected, curated, analyzed, and ultimately modeled for predictive analytics, and how any science builds a body of knowledge and sets the stage for increasingly complex observations and predictions. 

Let’s take a look at predictive analytics and how it works, along with some examples.

Predictive analytics: what is it?

Predictive analytics is a scientific forecasting method that attempts to identify future events [or simply; evaluate the likelihood of results ]. Most predictive analytics models are based on data collected over time and include variables. Indeed, historical data is essential for identifying patterns and trends in this approach.

Predictive analytics models include classification models, clustering models, forecasting models, time series models and many others. They combine pre-collected data with strong computer modeling, data analysis, and machine learning to identify correlations between specific variables in order to predict future trends. The data analyst typically starts with the largest and most relevant amount of data available and looks for repetitive patterns that allow predictive models to produce reliable predictions.

Indeed, companies can use predictive analytics to test new approaches to increase customer conversions and sales statistics while reducing the risk of trying new methods and strategies. This is possible due to the huge amount of customer data that flows from using the website, ordering products, and forecasts from other sources that will only become more accurate as the era of Big Data progresses.

To summarize this chapter, keep in mind that predictive analytics, which uses data-driven forecasts, help companies anticipate the potential outcomes of strategy changes. They are all based on historical data that has been organized in various ways to predict future values.

Let’s now look at some use cases

7 real-world predictive analytics applications

By processing previous consumer data using powerful analytics software, predictive analytics has helped many companies (e.g. Netflix, Amazon, and Walmart) to design strategies and make smart and cost-effective decisions for the future. It can be used in various ways to optimize business-critical operations; some popular applications include:

Identification of a fraud

To identify threats, predictive models can detect system anomalies and unusual behaviors. It can be fed with historical data on cyber attacks and fraud scenarios to alert staff to similar behavior and prevent hackers and vulnerabilities from infiltrating the system. It can also help detect everything that is related to monetary risk , from insurance fraud to credit risk prediction, as well as identifying patterns in high crime areas.

Virtual personal assistants

Siri, Ok Google, and Alexa improve the customer experience by learning from interactions and predicting customer response. Because bots are self-learning through the use of the deep learning component, they allow companies to better manage customers without hiring large support staff.

Risk assessment

Predictive analytics helps in identifying and managing risk by applying machine learning algorithms to aggregated datasets to uncover patterns, correlations and vulnerabilities, as well as map changes within a given industry. With this information, business leaders can take precautionary measures to avoid potential operational risks.

Medical diagnosis

Predictive analytics models help understand diseases by providing an accurate diagnosis based on historical data. For example, healthcare professionals can use it to identify which patients are at risk of developing certain conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes and asthma. Therefore, healthcare professionals will be able to provide even more personalized care.

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Predict buying behavior

Predictive analytics enables greater personalization and more targeted marketing campaigns by analyzing consumer activity across multiple channels and reviewing purchase history and customer preferences (thus, suggesting even more personalized content). It helps in developing a more detailed and personalized understanding of customers.

Equipment maintenance

Equipment failure can endanger lives and result in significant financial losses for the company. By combining IoT machinery and components, it would be possible to alert staff in advance and avoid costly breakdowns.

Sales improvement

Businesses can use machine learning algorithms on purchase data to predict how customers will respond to various upsell or cross-sell offers.

Predictive analytics for business

Businesses today are demanding forecasts to create better products, identify new ways to serve the market, and reduce operating costs. Predictive analytics meets these requirements by combining machine learning and business intelligence to predict future outcomes.

The method is particularly useful for executing “what if?” scenarios that affect customer loyalty and support multi-factor decisions. Think streaming services like Netflix, which offer product recommendations to their customers based on a combination of previous purchases and the preferences of a comparable cohort, thus improving both the consumer experience and sales numbers.

And, as an organization builds a database of data and forecasts, the returns on its investment in predictive analytics multiply, especially when combined with a corresponding effort to automate the workflows developed by its analytics team. Automation reduces the cost of forecasts and also increases the frequency with which new forecasts can be generated, allowing analytics teams to pursue new leads for continuous innovation.

Therefore, keep in mind that predictive analytics allows companies to plan, anticipate and better achieve desired results by leveraging data. By mentioning a few, organizations can use predictive analytics to:

  • Get a 360-degree view of the customer based on previous and current behavior.
  • Determine which customers are the most profitable.
  • Optimize your marketing campaigns so that they are more personalized for each customer.
  • Estimate the future demand for various products and services
  • Increase your proactive risk management.
  • Allocate resources strategically to maximize returns.
  • Keep up with the latest trends to gain a competitive edge.

To use predictive analytics, a company must first define a business goal, such as increasing revenue, optimizing operations, or improving customer engagement. The organization can then use the appropriate software solution to sort huge amounts of heterogeneous data, develop predictive analytics models, and generate actionable insights to support that goal.

Final thoughts on predictive modeling techniques

Advanced predictive analytics techniques are now widely used in business, enabling organizations to use big data to anticipate risks and opportunities. Companies can use predictive analytics software instead of guesswork to build a model that anticipates a likely situation based on historical data and powered by computer calculations. 

By using predictive analytics, organizations that don’t leverage their data risk falling behind their forecast-based competitors. And when used at an enterprise level, it can lead to happier, more engaged customers and more compelling results – benefits early adopters are already reaping.

Ercole Palmeri

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