Monday 25 April 2011

Use of Analytics in Business verticals.

In the last post, we saw how Analytics has become mainstream & how it is different from the Business Intelligence.

Let us see how businesses are using it for competitive advantage. Today businesses are more worried about survival than profitability. The very purpose of any business to exist is to be profitable & sustain it. This can happen only when there are good loyal & profitable Customers attached to the business.

Hence Customer analytics has become very prime importance in the current time and it is valid across all the business segments.

Customer Analytics:
  • Customer Lifetime value – group Customers on high, medium, low value & take actions to increase revenue
  • Customer Segmentation – the grouping of Customers based on demographics, or profitability, or lifetime value
  • Customer Churn/attrition  - predict which Customers are likely to leave you & take suitable actions
  • Customer Retention – identify most profitable Customers & then retain them
  • Campaign management – selective campaigns based on segmentation or Customer’s likely behavior
  • Cross-sell and Up-sell – increase the revenue proposing other products or high-end products
Apart from these, I am mentioning below some of the areas in business verticals, where Analytics is applied for foresight.

Banking & Financial Services Analytics:
  • Anti-money laundering – identifying suspicious transactions to alert investigation officers
  • Credit scoring – score the customer based on various parameters to arrive at a certain number and if that is above a threshold then approve the credit
  • Credit Risk – predicting the risk involved due to nonpayment by borrowers in case of credit cards, loans etc
  • Fraud detection & Prevention – predicting suspicious transactions which are likely to be fraud in all the transactions of the card, wire transfers, online transactions etc
  • Price Optimization - Debt collection agency can predict the optimal price for the portfolio & forecast the probable recovery from defaulters
Insurance Analytics:
  • Claims Fraud detection  - predicting the claims which are likely to be fraudulent
  • Policy Lapse prediction – predict which are the policies that are going to lapse before completing the tenure
  • Underwriting rate optimization – predicting the best price for the insurance products based on Customer profile
  • Agent performance prediction – how agents are going to add revenues to the organization, improve customer satisfaction & retention
  • Agent Lifetime Value – how best an agent is going to serve the organization throughout his/her tenure
Healthcare Analytics:
  • Healthcare Claims Fraud detection  - predicting the claims which are likely to be fraud
  • Financial recovery – predicting the payments from healthcare insurance payer which are overpayments to service providers
  • Health plan analytics – allows organizations to compare & predict different benefits & risk options in terms of coverage & costs
  • Condition Management – predict which of the people are likely to develop diseases like blood pressure, cholesterol etc
Retail Analytics:
  • Discount or Price optimization – predict the optimal prices of discounts & normal prices of merchandizes  for today’s sensitive shopper
  • Cross-Sell & Up-Sell – propose other products depending on various factors such as color, fashion, choice, location, earning patter & Customer buying behavior etc.
  • Forecasting – based on demands from Customers predict how much stock is required to avoid stock-outs & excess inventory
Manufacturing Analytics:
  • Predicting the parts failure – based on the history data predict  which of the mechanical parts are going to fail & when
  • Issue detection – predicting the issues before they occur so preventive maintenance can be done on the parts
  • Warranty Analytics – identify issues across the production period to reduce warranty costs
  • Forecasting – based on demands from Customers predict how much stock is required to avoid stock-outs & excess inventory
  • Inventory Optimization - to reduce inventory carrying costs & increase order fulfillment by predicting optimal inventory to be stored across warehouses
Text Analytics:
  • Discover & extract meaningful patterns and relationships from the text collection from social media site such as Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in, Blogs, Call center scripts
  • Understand Customer sentiments – positive & negative. Used for Product & Customer service improvements. Also for knowing what competition is good or bad at

Analytics is used in every area of life to get better insights into what is going to happen & what we can do so that the best outcome is expected !!!

Friday 8 April 2011

So what is Business Analytics & its various components

In the first post, I talked about why Analytics is required more than ever now. In this post let us discuss, what is it all about & what are the typical components of Analytics.

Let us start with the definition of Analytics. There are multiple definitions available but as our focus is on Simplified-Analytics, I feel the one below will help you understand better.

Business Analytics is the use of statistical tools & technologies to:
  • Find patterns in your data for further analysis e.g. product association
  • Find out outliers from the huge data points e.g. fraud detection
  • Identify relationships within the key data variables for further prediction e.g. next likely purchase from the Customer
  • Provide insights as to what will happen next e.g. which of the Customers are leaving us
  • Gain the competitive advantage.
So a more detailed comparison with Business Intelligence will help you understand better.

Business Intelligence
Business Analytics
What does it do?
Reports on what happened in the past or what is happening in now, in current time.
Investigate why it happened & predict what may happen in future.
How is it achieved?
  • Basic querying and reporting
  • OLAP cubes, slice, and dice, drill-down
  • Interactive display options – Dashboards, Scorecards, Charts, graphs, alerts
  • Applying statistical and mathematical techniques
  • Identifying relationships between key data variables
  • Reveal hidden patterns in data
What does your business gain?
  • Dashboards with “how are we doing” information
  • Standard reports and preset KPIs
  • Alert mechanisms when something goes wrong
  • Response to “what do we do next?”
  • Proactive and planned solutions for unknown circumstances
  • The ability to adapt and respond to changes and challenges
Now that you know the difference between BI & BA, let us discuss the typical components in Analytics.

There are 6 major components or categories in any analytics solution.
  • Data Mining – Create models by uncovering previously unknown trends and patterns in vast amounts of data e.g. detect insurance claims frauds, Retail Market basket analysis.
         There are various statistical techniques through which data mining is achieved.
    • Classification ( when we know on which variables to classify the data e.g. age, demographics)
    • Regression
    • Clustering ( when we don’t know on which factors to classify data)
    • Associations & Sequencing Models
  • Text Mining - Discover and extract meaningful patterns and relationships from text collections e.g. understand sentiments of Customers on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Call center scripts etc. which are used to improve the Product or Customer service or understand how competitors are doing.
  • Forecasting – Analyze & forecast processes that take place over the period of time e.g. predict seasonal energy demand using historical trends, Predict how many ice creams cones are required considering demand
  • Predictive Analytics - Create, manage and deploy predictive scoring models e.g. Customer churn &  retention, Credit Scoring, predicting failure in shop floor machinery
  • Optimization – Use of simulations techniques to identify scenarios which will produce best results e.g. Sale price optimization, identifying optimal Inventory for maximum fulfillment & avoid stock outs
  • Visualization - Enhanced exploratory data analysis & output of modeling results with highly interactive statistical graphics
Hope this has helped you get the clarity on what is Analytics.

Next post I will cover how various business verticals are using Analytics.

Friday 1 April 2011

Why Business Analytics is important for business more than ever NOW !!

As the global political & physical barriers are collapsing, all the global markets are getting opened for businesses, creating a fierce competition within companies to market their products, increase their revenues, grab most of the customers. Organization are not just worried about the profitability but also survival in this tsunami of Global Reach.

All along till now, Organizations were using business intelligence to get the information from the vast amount of data buried into various internal systems. But this is just information & decision makers had the reactive approach to deal with such situations e.g. North region is not meeting the revenue targets - so create some focused program to cover North region & so on.

This is where Business Analytics play !! It's not reporting of past data or what is happening now but giving organizations the forward look at the business.

It can answers questions like :
  • how do we get more insights about our customers?
  • what if we change the price or service of the products?
  • what will be the impact on our customers?
  • How do we target our most profitable customers?
  • How do we detect frauds?
  • which of the customers are likely to leave us in the future?
Business Analytics is an extremely important area going across all the business domains. If you know in advance, which of the customers are likely to leave you, you can take measures to hit only those customers with the right campaigns to retain them. there is no need for machine gun firing but a sniper is required in this case.

By looking at the future, Organizations can take proactive decisions and plan their business for maximum success.

So Business Intelligence can give you "Information" but Business Analytics gives you the "Knowledge" - TO ACT UPON !!!

In the next post, I will talk about What is Business Analytics & its various components.

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