Predictive Analytics: the Future of Business Intelligence

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Predictive Analytics: the Future of Business Intelligence
By M. Zaman
The market is witnessing an unprecedented shift in business intelligence (BI), largely because of technological innovation and increasing business needs. The latest shift in the BI market is the move from traditional analytics to predictive analytics. Although predictive analytics belongs to the BI family, it is emerging as a distinct new software sector. Analytical tools enable greater transparency, and can find and analyze past and present trends, as well as the hidden nature of data. However, past and present insight and trend information are not enough to be competitive in business. Business organizations need to know more about the future, and in particular, about future trends, patterns, and customer behavior in order to understand the market better. To meet this demand, many BI vendors developed predictive analytics to forecast future trends in customer behavior, buying patterns, and who is coming into and leaving the market and why. Traditional analytical tools claim to have a real 360° view of the enterprise or business, but they analyze only historical data—data about what has already happened. Traditional analytics help gain insight for what was right and what went wrong in decision-making. Today’s tools merely provide rear view analysis. However, one cannot change the past, but one can prepare better for the future and decision makers want to see the predictable future, control it, and take actions today to attain tomorrow’s goals. What is Predictive Analytics?

Predictive analytics are used to determine the probable future outcome of an event or the likelihood of a situation occurring. It is the branch of data mining concerned with the prediction of future probabilities and trends. Predictive analytics is used to automatically analyze large amounts of data with different variables; it includes clustering, decision trees, market basket analysis, regression modeling, neural nets, genetic algorithms, text mining, hypothesis testing, decision analytics, and more. The core element of predictive analytics is the predictor, a variable that can be measured for an individual or entity to predict future behavior. For example, a credit card company could consider age, income, credit history, other demographics as predictors when issuing a credit card to determine an applicant’s risk factor. Multiple predictors are combined into a predictive model, which, when subjected to analysis, can be used to forecast future probabilities with an acceptable level of reliability. In predictive modeling, data is collected, a statistical model is formulated, predictions are made, and the model is validated (or revised) as additional data become available. Predictive analytics combine business knowledge and statistical analytical techniques to apply with business data to achieve insights. These insights help organizations understand how people behave as customers, buyers, sellers, distributors, etc. Multiple related predictive models can produce good insights to make strategic company decisions, like where to explore new markets, acquisitions, and retentions; find up-selling and cross-selling opportunities; and discovering areas that can improve security and fraud detection. Predictive analytics indicates not only what to do, but also how and when to do it, and to explain what-if scenarios. A Microscopic and Telescopic View of Your Data

Predictive analytics employs both a microscopic and telescopic view of data allowing organizations to see and analyze the minute details of a business, and to peer into the future. Traditional BI tools cannot accomplish this functionality. Traditional BI tools work with the assumptions one creates, and then will find if the statistical patterns match those assumptions. Predictive analytics go beyond those assumptions to discover previously unknown data; it then looks for patterns and associations anywhere and everywhere...
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