Prescriptive analytics has broad potential, but according to SearchCIO's #CIOChat participants, CIOs should proceed with caution when it comes to pursuing this particular branch of business analytics (BA) lest the application -- and thus, the projected outcomes -- be less wide-ranging than they'd hoped.
The prescriptive method of analytics is closely related to both descriptive and predictive analytics; however, while descriptive analytics provides insight into past events and predictive analytics forecasts future events, prescriptive analytics seeks the best course of action to obtain a particular result.
More on the prescriptive analytics method
CIO Decisions e-zine: Prescriptive analytics
Prescriptive analysis is coming to a future near you
Opinions about the applicability of prescriptive analytics vary. In a recent SearchCIO Trailblazer profile, Erick Brethenoux, director of BA and decision management strategy at IBM, explained that certain types of prescriptive analytics can be effective for any company looking to improve its business processes. "Even with a very small amount of data, you can do an amazing amount of analytics to save money right away," he said.
In our #CIOChat, SearchCIO Managing Editor Rachel Lebeaux was first to weigh in on whether prescriptive analytics applies to all industries or just those with closed systems and limited parameters:
Though applying a prescriptive method might be simpler in industries with straightforward metrics, several basic benefits of employing prescriptive analytics outweigh any corporate hesitations:
1. Data is valuable
2. Analytics equals insights
3. Perspective mitigates risks
A1 Hard to imagine an industry where data doesn't matter-If there is data & decisions to be made, prescriptive analytics has a role #CIOChat— Tom Doub (@tomdoub) April 30, 2014
The bottom line is that analytics provide insight that businesses can make decisions on. There is a balance to keep on metrics. #CIOChat— Tim Crawford (@tcrawford) April 30, 2014
More explicitly, what specific industries can derive top value from prescriptive analytics models? Tom Doub, CEO of the Centerstone Research Institute (CRI) and this month's SearchCIO tweet jam expert, suggests that healthcare IT tops the list, followed by customer-facing functions and others:
A1 Healthcare another example. Love to see what IBM & Sloan Kettering to integrate analytics into cancer care #CIOChat— Tom Doub (@tomdoub) April 30, 2014
Our expert is no stranger to the healthcare field: His organization, CRI, is one of the nation's largest nonprofit providers of community-based care to individuals with mental-health issues. At CRI, Doub is currently overhauling the prediction model by analyzing patients' treatment and progress over time to pinpoint precisely when a patient starts to get better.
What does it take to get a prescriptive analytics plan rolling at your organization? SearchCIO Executive Editor Linda Tucci asked #CIOChat-ters, "Does IT have to adjust its rules of data management to get something like this going?" Some responses:
In what industries do you think the prescriptive method of analytics is most useful? What does it take to get the ball rolling? To read more from this #CIOChat conversation, head over to Twitter and follow @SearchCIO. Our next tweet jam will be Wednesday, May 28, at 3 p.m. EST (subject matter TBA).