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To predict or not to Predict

What is predictive analysis?

Predictive analytics encompasses a variety of statistical techniques from modeling, machine learning, and data mining that analyze current and historical facts to make predictions about future, or otherwise unknown, events.

In business terms; predictive models exploit patterns found in historical and transactional data to identify risks and opportunities. Models capture relationships among many factors to allow assessment of risk or potential associated with a particular set of conditions, guiding decision making for candidate transactions.

The core of predictive analytics relies on capturing relationships between explanatory variables and the predicted variables from past occurrences, and exploiting them to predict the unknown outcome. It is important to note, however, that the accuracy and usability of results will depend greatly on the level of data analysis and the quality of assumptions.

There are different types of predictive models, each of them having different purposes and the statistical techniques underlying them vary.

Descriptive models

Descriptive models quantify relationships in data in a way that is often used to classify customers or prospects into groups. Unlike predictive models that focus on predicting a single customer behavior (such as credit risk), descriptive models identify many different relationships between customers or products. Descriptive models do not rank-order customers by their likelihood of taking a particular action the way predictive models do. Instead, descriptive models can be used, for example, to categorize customers by their product preferences and life stage. Descriptive modeling tools can be utilized to develop further models that can simulate large number of individualized agents and make predictions.

Predictive model (or forecasting)

Predictive models are models of the relation between the specific performance of a unit in a sample and one or more known attributes or features of the unit. The objective of the model is to assess the likelihood that a similar unit in a different sample will exhibit the specific performance. This category encompasses models that are in many areas, such as marketing, where they seek out subtle data patterns to answer questions about customer performance, such as fraud detection models. Predictive models often perform calculations during live transactions, for example, to evaluate the risk or opportunity of a given customer or transaction, in order to guide a decision. With advancements in computing speed, individual agent modeling systems have become capable of simulating human behavior or reactions to given stimuli or scenarios.

Decision models (or optimization) aka Diagnostic or Prescriptive

Decision models describe the relationship between all the elements of a decisionthe known data (including results of predictive models), the decision, and the forecast results of the decision — in order to predict the results of decisions involving many variables. These models can be used in optimization, maximizing certain outcomes while minimizing others. Decision models are generally used to develop decision logic or a set of business rules that will produce the desired action for every customer or circumstance.

Once you know the basics of PA and it’s different models, the next question is:

All companies can do PA models, but you have to know where to start first. See it as a staircase, you should take it step by step and start with Descriptive models first. This in order to get your business entangled with PA slowly.

Begin with the end in mind and make a program that supports the steps of the staircase to the level you would like to go. McCoy's consultants are specialized in Predictive Analytics and are more then happy to assist you on your road to Predictive Analytics