Making Analytics Actionable

Michael Vizard

To hear all the discussion surrounding predictive analytics lately, you could be forgiven if you thought this was as a relatively new computer science discipline. In reality, financial services companies and insurance firms having been using predictive analytic applications to mitigate their risks for years. What is happening is that other vertical industry segments are starting to discover the potential of predictive analytics within their own enterprises.

One of the long-time leaders in predictive analytics is FICO, which today released a FICO Triad Customer Manager 8.5 application that helps companies create a visual decision tree around a set of analytics. David Lightfoot, FICO vice president of product management, says analytics only add value to the business when it's attached to a set of actionable business processes. The release is designed to help customers visually build a set of processes in response to information presented via a FICO application.

FICO has built a collection of predictive applications around core technologies such as neural networks. In addition, FICO provides credit and loan risk scoring services to financial services firms. In recent years, it has made those technologies available as a series of applications that IT organizations can buy, or a set of tools they can use to develop their own applications on top of the core FICO technologies.

According to Lightfoot, a lot of the analytics tools being put forth in the market today lack any really context to a business process. And what most business executives really want to know from any analytic tool is what is the real level of risk associated with any given action or set of variables.

Lightfoot's point is well taken in that there is a certain amount of jaundice among business users concerning all the business intelligence reports they get from IT. There's no absence of data or analysis, but very little in the way of actionable information. What they really need to go with all the analytics is a set of policies that can be defined by rules derived from the information in the analytics. Giving people information is one thing, but helping them define what people should actually do with that information adds a whole other level of real intelligence to the business.

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Feb 2, 2010 4:27 PM Radhika Subramanian Radhika Subramanian  says:

I could not agree more. Predictive analytics is not new.  It used to be called "Forecasting".  We just have a fancier name for it. Also - analytics that is not connected to a business action is quite useless.  We do not need more data and numbers - we need actionable recommendations.


Feb 2, 2010 7:05 PM Francis Carden Francis Carden  says: in response to Radhika Subramanian

I disagree that "no absence of data" as a statement to imply we don't need any more. You simply do not know what you do not know. Each time we dig further into the universe, we learn more about it, and sometimes correct previous thinking based upon what we learn as we go deeper!

There are new technologies that provide a new granular level of analytics that has been missing completely until now. That is, desktop user and application monitoring. i.e. determining what a user REALLY does on their desktop with their myriad of cloud and on-premise applications. It's not all about server side analytics, it's not about a six sigma stop watch and notepad. It's about every desktop in the enterprise, every user, everything they do and the impact these actions have in context with the server side analytics.

When you can truly look across the enterprise at analytics right from a user click or field change, you truly now get to see the entire picture, in real time and you get to determine what the real make up of a workflow is, by including the user. What the user does must count. You think you know, but the truth is, until you monitor every step every user takes, every time, in every application at the desktop, you are missing enough that might make a difference to your decisions!

Desktop Analytics is new and feeds system like FICO with the pieces the enterprise has been blind to in the past.

My 2 cents for great debate


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