Making informed decisions (part 2)
In part 1, we saw that we could use knowledge, experience and intuition to build a model serving as a basis for making decisions. But when historical data is available, we can do more…
When large amounts of historical data are available (and the larger, the better), a predictive model can be built using predictive analytics: this basically uses statistics to comb through the data and find patterns. Such patterns can of course be found more easily when they occur frequently. It can be quite useful to make use of the results of BI (if available) to guide the predictive analytics algorithms so that they find the proper correlations.
When successful, the predictive model, used on new cases, will predict a given outcome –therefore based on past experience. Automation of the decision making, using the predictive model, can be performed by building business rules from that model.
And the resulting business rules can, as usual, be enriched using existing knowledge or future knowledge acquired over time (from human experience, or other predictive analytics “campaigns”).
When the results of predictive analytics are used in a number of simulation scenarios, we end up with a number of possible outcomes, a few of them possibly more optimal than others (and here we are talking business performance).
These simulation scenarios may be run continually, as new historical data becomes available, in order to constantly optimize the predictive models –and also so that they correspond to a reality that is more current.
The possibility of obtaining a number of possible decisions trying to maximize an expected outcome, all based on historical data (and possibly also on existing knowledge) leads to a real prescription: “something that is suggested as a way to do something or to make something happen” (Merriam-Webster dictionary).
Automatically providing advice on decisions to make to reach a given target is a very appealing and powerful idea: you don’t just rely on “gut feeling” or experience or past knowledge; you rely on all of these, simultaneously. And the suggestions evolve as time passes, allowing quick refocusing.
Making informed decisions
The ability of making decisions based on so many different aspects that evolve over time is already something we, humans, do at our own level (both consciously and unconsciously).
Scaling this up to tactical and strategic levels in the Enterprise requires the use of prescriptive analytics, backed by knowledge, experience, and big data. So that we can have some comfort that we made those decisions based on all that we had at our disposal.
Now, should I eat some Thai food for lunch, or some Japanese food?