CIO Decisions

Prescriptive analytics: Conquer the next business frontier


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Prescriptive analysis: Just what the doctor ordered

Prescriptive analysis could do some of big data thinking for us -- if only we'd let it. This CIO Decisions e-zine explores the growing analytics field and the strategies at work.

The latest RX for your big data dilemma? Prescriptive analytics, an advanced form of information analysis that's aimed at doing some of the thinking for us based on past performance and future forecasts.

Rachel LebeauxRachel Lebeaux

As data increases in all three V's -- volume, velocity and variety -- most experts agree that layering together three techniques -- predictive analytics, rules-based systems and optimization -- can get an organization's prescriptive analysis mojo going, as SearchCIO Executive Editor Linda Tucci describes in this month's CIO Decisions e-zine.

"We were running through dollars faster than we could afford," said Tom Doub, CEO at the Nashville, Tenn.-based nonprofit Centerstone Research Institute, whose organization is one of the nation's largest nonprofit providers of community-based care to people with mental-health issues. Rather than "surround patients" with fruitless or duplicative treatments, the organization turned to prescriptive analysis to achieve the most effective clinical outcomes.

"We developed an algorithm using data within our production environment," Doub explained. "We measured outcomes and developed data for people coming in and said, 'For each individual coming in, what would be the optimal course of treatment for them?'"

This issue also features the IT transformation at Revlon Inc., which turned the technology department from a vertical organization to a horizontal one. How'd they get it done? Here's a hint: The former CIO couldn't gloss over the process of getting buy-in from staff, or encouraging them to think creatively.

"Having curious people to me is probably the most important attribute a team can have," David Giambruno said. "That's how you drive change."

This issue also gives us the chance to check in with Patricia Coffey, senior vice president of technology and operations at Allstate Insurance Co., to brush up on the leadership skills needed to get ahead in IT, and Senior News Writer Nicole Laskowski dives headfirst -- or maybe that should be eyeprint-first? -- into the burgeoning field of biometric authorization, examining personalized technologies that can help CIOs and their staff stay one step ahead of the hackers.

Sounds like a healthy approach to IT to me.

Write to me at

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