Part One – Will Predictive Analytics for Dummies Work for you?

What if you could predict the future as a business owner? And perhaps know how the next 3 years would really be like for you? Sounds like a fantasy, right? Not quite. Some really smart statistical minds came up with quite a few concepts over the past few decades that now allow us to build models to predict the future. Perhaps it’s getting so easy now a dummy can do it!

So we went and bought Predictive Analytics For Dummies, to give you an honest review on whether or not it’s worth picking up!

Predictive Analytics for Dummies is the newest book from Wiley that lets you throw a set of eyes into the future so that you can make informed decisions about the future of your business operations. The business world has absolutely fallen in love with how predictive analytics has transformed the possibilities of doing business.

Now, we no longer have to rely on simple KPI’s and data research to know what the future holds -and frankly we couldn’t be happier about it (well at least this is true for some of us, and the rest of you know who you are.)

The book dove right in and covered the techniques of predictive analytics that utilize historical data that primarily provide estimates about the outcomes of our enterprises. The first parts covered only the very basic needs of understanding when it comes to predictive analytics for your department or company. So follow through as we decipher what the book is all about and whether you should splurge for it.

As mentioned before, predictive analytics use past results to develop a model that can predict future values for existing or different sets of data. It uses a number of techniques to achieve this including modelling, statistics, data mining, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

We definitely felt all of those topics were represented, pretty well-versed, and somewhat well covered topics in this book. Wiley (the publisher) did do a nice job with the multiple author selection with Anasse Bari, PhD, Mohamed Chaouchi, and Tommy Jung.

However, we couldn’t help but feel that Predictive Analytics for Dummies was severely over-stacked on the academic public-sector experience of the authorship, and extremely anemic on the private-sector real business experience side. You know… where we business people actually have to turn a profit with our initiatives. This is in no way intended as an arrogant dig, it’s just that this is a legitimate and never-ending frustration with the publishing world. Business people need real solutions that can be applied immediately today.

We buy books like this because we need to learn concepts super fast. So, for instance, you want to take a trip into the future regarding your revenue opportunities, you want to find out how you can employ predictive analytics models so you can correctly interpret historical data and hence help you identify opportunities now for your future-predictive analytics. Perhaps business people are better suited for the job? We digress.

Anyway, text analytics, statistics, and data mining let you as a business owner create predictive intelligence through the unmasking of patterns and relationships of your structured and unstructured data. Again, all concepts were well covered.

The Big Data Categories Were Touched Upon, But Obvious Needs Were Missed

All in all we felt the big key areas that they NEEDED to cover, were covered. In other words, they covered their bases. The areas they reviewed were as follows: Data Mining, General Basics of building a team through People, Process and Technology. Working with Big Data. The BASIC V’s of BIG DATA which are Value, Volume, Validity (or Veracity), Variety, and Velocity. Data Exploration and Modeling. Prediction and Analysis, and expanding on prediction with Big Data platforms.

Overall we felt they left way too much out on Data Hygiene, which is often the bane of existence for true Data Analytics and Big Data Science practitioners in the business world and indicative of Academics who are all too used to dealing with perfect data-sets and census data. Still however, this was a well-written and well-constructed book. Who are we to point fingers? We haven’t written one on Predictive Analytics, so we do commend the authors on their efforts!

So would we recommend the average business person buy this book thinking they can undertake a Predictive Analytics project on their own? Absolutely not. It takes specialized tools, platforms, experience and a well-staffed analytic practice to ensure success. However, would we recommend an individual or professional, who is looking to learn and dabble into the world of predictive analytics who simply wants a primer on the topic to buy this book as a quick read? Sure!

Overall, we give “Predictive Analytics for Dummies” a 3.5 out of 5 stars! A solid read.

Part 2 – What Are The Applicable Benefits Of Predictive Analytics?

Okay so you’ve decided whether you’re buying the book; and whether you’re hiring a company to help you with your predictive analytics. You’re obviously going to invest in predictive analytics, right? So what are the big benefits after all?

The simple answer is customer intelligence. I don’t know about you but it seems the new customer isn’t afraid to crack their shell and try new products and services. And why wouldn’t they anyway? The number of offers on the table is big enough, right? If you want to remain relevant in the industry, you must seek to understand your target customer so that you can keep up with them.

Predictive Analytics for Dummies was really created to help you know how to engage your data. Let’s say you’re a Retailer! Or an eCommerce website! With predictive analytics, you can leverage it to better know things like whom to target and which offer seems the best for them. The technology can help you know how customers think before making a purchasing decision and how they react to intense marketing messages. Here are other benefits of using predictive analytics for your business:

  • It will give you an upper hand over your competitors
  • It can help you limit business risks
  • With reduced risk comes low costs
  • It increases the efficiency of your business
  • It helps identify fraud
  • It aids in fast processing of data
  • It helps you understand customer expectations

Where Can You Apply the Principles of Predictive Analytics For Dummies?

predictive-analytics-for-dummies

Now that you know the benefits of predictive analytics, I can almost see you asking where you can use it for your enterprise. Some of the industries that can benefit from the technology include banking & financial services, retail, oil/gas & utilities, government & the public sector, manufacturing and distribution, and even healthcare or hospitality. Here is yet another list of applications of predictive analytics within these industry verticals.

  1. Customer relationship management (CRM): You can utilize predictive analytics during your CRM objectives, including marketing campaigns, sales, and services tailored for the customer. Be sure to apply the technology in the entire life cycle of the customer beginning from acquisition, the growth stage, retention, and even winning back the customer.
  2. Detection of fraud: Predictive analytics models can also flush out a myriad of fraudulent transactions (both online and offline), detect inaccurate credit applications and generally identify false insurance claims and thefts.
  3. Direct marketing: If you want an effective solution that combines product versions, communication channels, timing, and marketing opportunities or audience segments to help you target a certain customer, consider predictive analytics.
  4. Management of risk: Predictive analytics has also been known to help business owners know how best to get the most out of their capital asset models of pricing and risk management to have accurate forecasts.
  5. Cross-selling and collection analytics: The technology can also help you as a business owner identify the most effective collection strategy to bring down collection cost. You can also use it to track customer behavior, usage, and spending to avoid cross sales.

I wish I could tell you that predictive analytics is an easy concept to decode but unfortunately, it isn’t. Its principles are quite complex for the layperson. This is where predictive analytics for dummies comes in. Basically, its a great starter! A simple approach that gets people into the topic and combines the learning and engagement stages of predictive analytics to help you make informed business decisions. Finally, how can you have a topic as important as Predictive Analytics and not once touch upon or even HINT upon the next step in the natural evolution of the process?…  Prescriptive Analytics!

Wrapping it All Up

As the term suggests, Predictive analytics for dummies was designed for the average business person who simply wants to reap its benefits without spending years trying to crack the complex version. Is Predictive Analytics for Dummies for You? Well, the book has a ton of benefits for virtually all readers regardless of their prior knowledge. It can help you avoid making mistakes before spending a lot of money on the wrong tools or the wrong hires. It can also reduce risk and allow you to pick the right projects, lower your costs, make better decisions, and who knows… maybe predict the future… however…

Bottom line: if you want to go FAR with predictive analytics, it is probably in your best interest to let the experts do the heavy lifting for you. Sure, you can go in blind but you might run into some real problems. Not to mention the fact that you might never fully decode the model enough to maximize its potential for your business. To avoid that, work with true analytics experts with experience and a results-oriented team with incredible services. It’s important to work with partners you can trust, who’ve done it before and who can show you the proven path forward.