Saturday, May 11, 2013

Big Data + Prescriptive Analysis = Next Powerful Insights!

There are many conversations about which considerations is the most important in realizing business value through big data.  Undoubtedly, understanding big data has become critical to executives and marketers. As a graduate student in Northwestern's Medill IMC program, I have found two articles which shows the value of Big Data, and the next powerful tool --- Prescriptive Analysis.

In a recent "March Madness tournament" called “The IBM Smart Sixteen Big Data Challenge”, the company invites industry professions to decide which aspect are their top priority when leveraging the power of data. Not surprisingly, “predicting customer behaviors” in marketing activities wins the championship (See Picture 1). According to Gartner, more than 30% of predictive analytics projects by 2015 will provide insights based on enormous structured and unstructured data to company. It is no doubt that digging the insights and forecasting the future through big data are helpful in planning marketing strategies, but what's the best course of action once you get a prediction? 
Picture 1 
An emerging technology called prescriptive analysis might help marketers one step further. It goes beyond descriptive and predictive analytics to a next phase that “recommends specific actions and shows the likely outcome of each decision”, according to Jeff Bertolucci's article Prescriptive Analytics and Big Data: Next Big Thing? This new automated technology is made possible thanks to the increasing speed and memory size of computers. Knowledge from big data, business rules, mathematical models and machine learning are combined to analyze potential decisions, their interactions, the factors and constraints on each decision and the ultimate outcome of each scenario to arrive at an optimal solution. No wonder IBM claims it the next big thing and the last step in marketing analytics.

Think about this, by predictive analytics, we marketers can understand the drivers behind customer buying patterns and anticipate the products that fit customers’ need; and then, prescriptive analytics helps us design scheduling, production, inventory, promotion deals and so on so forth in every marketing step to deliver real time response to customers in the most optimized way. The combination of predictive and prescriptive analytics provides a way to achieve both efficiency and effectiveness for marketers in the ever-changing marketplace.

As a data-driven and consumer-centric marketer, catching up with this big data and prescriptive analysis trend is becoming more and more important. From my analysis of these two articles, combined with the advices from 5 Pillars of Prescriptive Analytics written by Atanu Basu, the CEO of Prescriptive Software Developer Ayata,  there are three action items that you should know to best leverage this next big thing:

  1. Change Perception and Explore Actively With the presence of big data and advanced analytics, marketing can be a science. Take advantage of it and optimize your marketing result. If you’re waiting until you have a complete and fully defined data warehouse in place before you explore advanced analytics, then you might be waiting too long. Take the initiative to explore advanced technology in the industry
  2. Integrate Predictions and PrescriptionsPredictions and Prescriptions must work synergistically for prescriptive analytics to deliver on its promise. The symbiotic integration of predictions and prescriptions is the key to widespread adoption and inherent value of prescriptive analytics. 
  3. Create Hybrid Data - A transformative prescriptive analytics technology should process hybrid data, which includes structured data such as number and categories, as well as unstructured data such as image and video. While most of the marketers rely on just available structured data, incorporating hybrid data is very important in doing prescriptive analytics.

By applying one or all of these tactics, marketers can best leverage the power from this cutting-edge technology with big data and prescriptive analysis. This in turn, will provide powerful insights that supports an ongoing business success. 

Yini is a graduate student of Integrated Marketing Communications in Northwestern University, focusing on market research and analytics. She is a disciple of the power of communications and also a believer in the magic of data. She can be reached via @ninikitten1

1 comment:

  1. Big data is now most important topics on the corporate and IT world world. Everyone agree to using this. And as a marketer, I'm very much interest on about that. And now I'm using datafeed marketing tools for my own marketing.