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Updated: August 21, 2013 20:25 IST

Embracing analytics to predict customer and market behaviour

Darin Bartik
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Darin Bartik
The Hindu
Darin Bartik

Keeping calm in rush hour traffic may not only prevent you from bursting a blood vessel, but it might even reward you with cheaper motor insurance. You may ask what makes this possible and how your driving skills are tested; the answer to these questions lie in the new analytics and Business Intelligence tools that companies are using to improve their customer experience, distribution and profitability. Organisations today are turning data into business insights with the help of the right business intelligence software. With more data under management than ever before, organisations are embracing analytics as a way to predict customer and market behaviour.

Gartner predicts that by 2014, analytics will reach 50 per cent of potential users. By 2020, it is believed that the potential user base will reach 75 per cent. Post-2020, the world will be heading toward 100 per cent potential users.

Analytics is how organisations put analytic data, or summaries of information to use. To make an example of the case above, insurance companies can use devices to monitor driving habits. These devices will gather data which, if used right, will be able to project how good a driver you are. Getting the necessary data out of that device is what analytics is all about.

Analytics help in customising offers in ways that will seem lucrative to the target audience. Today, it is necessary for companies to respond to changing market conditions, customer preferences and competitive threats in a timely manner. Analytic technologies help respond to these changes, faster and more effectively.

Therefore, analytics is about transforming existing data into something meaningful that decision-makers can use to make appropriate changes in business operations and correspondingly respond to the market. It is a collection of technologies that align with business needs and enable deep visibility into corporate data assets, while allowing repetitive feedback to recreate business strategies.

The question on everybody’s lips today is how can analytics benefit organisations? To address the same, here are two examples.

Firstly, analysing patient data to provide better care in healthcare organisations: every healthcare organisation makes a meticulous assessment of important patient details. This assessment includes details such as reason for visit, regularity of visits, symptoms, current medical condition and so on. A record of this assessment is maintained so that a medical examiner can quickly determine the severity level and provide the right guidance. With the right analytic tools, these assessments can be even more useful. It could considerably reduce the amount of time spent on repetitive assessments. By automatically comparing the current patient to previous patient populations and discerning patterns, the healthcare facility could improve patient care and the organisation’s bottom line.

Secondly, performing contract valuation to assess transactions in financial service organisations. A financial service organisation has to complete a due diligence process while reviewing key financial contracts such as mortgages and insurance policies. The review is very important to determine errors and discrepancies. Contracts have to be priced and modelled on the basis of the risk associated with them. The pricing and financial default models for these contracts are often assumed but not verified, despite the risk involved. With the help of analytic tools, a comparison can be made of structured and unstructured data. This enables organisations to review large groups of contracts and access external information such as credit scores, payment history and banking information for validation when making an assessment. This minimises risks and makes transactions more efficient.

It is believed that more than 80 per cent of all IT projects fail; however, some IT specialists deliver results every time. These successful professionals operate differently – they make the right use of analytics. Analytics is not merely an application; it is a presentation and interaction layer that empowers users, powered by a strong data integration layer and infrastructure. All components must be rapid to deploy and must operate together to accommodate change in business needs.

Analytics turn data into insight that empowers organisations to make better decisions. With the appropriate analytic capabilities, organisations can build an environment with a single analytic tool chain across unstructured, semi-structured and structured data, giving staff across the organisation the information they need to improve the organisation’s bottom line.

(The writer is Executive Director of Product Management for Dell Software’s Information Management Group)

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