At the end of November 2012 top predictive analytics experts, practitioners, authors and business thought leaders met in London at Predictive Analytics World conference. Cameral nature of the conference combined with great variety of experiences brought by over 60 attendees and speakers made a unique opportunity to dive into the topic from Findwise perspective.
Dive into Big Data
In the Opening Keynote, presented by Program Chairman PhD Geert Verstraeten, we could hear about ways to increase the impact of Predictive Analytics. Unsurprisingly a lot of fuzz is about embracing Big Data. As analysts have more and more data to process, their need for new tools is obvious. But business will cherish Big Data platforms only if it sees value behind it. Thus in my opinion before everything else that has impact on successful Big Data Analytics we should consider improving business-oriented communication. Even the most valuable data has no value if you can’t convince decision makers that it’s worth digging it.
But beeing able to clearly present benefits is not everything. Analysts must strive to create specific indicators and variables that are empirically measurable. Choose the right battles. As Gregory Piatetsky (data mining and predictive analytics expert) said: more data beats better algorithms, but better questions beat more data.
Finally, aim for impact. If you have a call center and want to persuade customers not to resign from your services, then it’s not wise just to call everyone. But it might also not be wise to call everyone you predict to have high risk of leaving. Even if as a result you loose less clients, there might be a large group of customers that will leave only because of the call. Such customers may also be predicted. And as you split high risk of leaving clients into “persuadable” ones and “touchy” ones, you are able to fully leverage your analytics potencial.
Find it exciting
Greatest thing about Predictive Analytics World 2012 was how diverse the presentations were. Many successful business cases from a large variety of domains and a lot of inspiring speeches makes it hard not to get at least a bit excited about Predictive Analytics.
From banking and financial scenarios, through sport training and performance prediction in rugby team (if you like at least one of: baseball, Predictive Analytics or Brad Pitt, I recommend you watch Moneyball movie). Not to mention Case Study about reducing youth unemployment in England. But there are two particular presentations I would like to say a word about.
First of them was a Case Study on Predicting Investor Behavior in First Social Media Sentiment-Based Hedge Fund presented by Alexander Farfuła – Chief Data Scientist at MarketPsy Capital LLC. I find it very interesting because it shows how powerful Big Data can be. By using massive amount of social media data (e.g. Twitter), they managed to predict a lot of global market behavior in certain industries. That is the essence of Big Data – harness large amount of small information chunks that are useless alone, to get useful Big Picture.
Second one was presented by Martine George – Head of Marketing Analytics & Research at BNP Paribas Fortis in Belgium. She had a really great presentation about developing and growing teams of predictive analysts. As the topic is brisk at Findwise and probably in every company interested in analytics and Big Data, I was pleased to learn so much and talk about it later on in person.
Big (Data) Picture
Day after the conference John Elder from Elder Research led an excellent workshop. What was really nice is that we’ve concentrated on the concepts not the equations. It was like a semester in one day – a big picture that can be digested into technical knowledge over time. But most valuable general conclusion was twofold:
- Leverage – an incremental improvement will matter! When your turnover can be counted in millions of dollars even half percent of saving mean large additional revenue.
- Low hanging fruit – there is lot to gain what nobody else has tried yet. That includes reaching for new kinds of data (text data, social media data) and daring to make use of it in a new, cool way with tools that weren’t there couple of years ago.
Plateau of Productivity
As a conclusion, I would say that Predictive Analytics has become a mature, one of the most useful disciplines on the market. As in the famous Gartner Hype, Predictive Analytics reached has reached the Plateau of Productivity. Though often ungrateful, requiring lots of resources, money and time, it can offer your company a successful future.