I was honored to have my book, Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die, reviewed by Patrick Tucker in The Furturist. Here is an excerpt from the review.
Expanding the Predictable Universe
Data scientist Eric Siegel explains the brave, new, and surprising world of predictive analytics.
Whenever you go to a major merchandise retailer and pull items off the shelf, you create a little piece of information that the retailer stores in a database. As more people pull items off those shelves, the retailer has the opportunity to learn something about all of you, in real time, and can use that information to predict what you might be interested in buying next. With the emergence of extremely large databases and ever-better transaction records, the relationship between what we buy, where we go, and what we might do next is becoming ever more clear.
In his new book, Predictive Analytics, researcher Eric Siegel refers to this computerized semi-clairvoyance as “the prediction effect.” Siegel achieved some small notoriety in 2012, when New York Times writer Charles Duhigg interviewed him on a story about predictive analytics (PA). Siegel recalls that Duhigg “asked for interesting discoveries that had come from PA. I rattled off a few that included pregnancy prediction.” Siegel directed him to a video from one of the many PA conferences that Siegel runs.
The video was a keynote presentation by data scientist Andrew Pole of Target, discussing how Target used data from its massive baby-registry service to predict pregnancy through consumer habits. For instance, many women, upon discovering that they are pregnant, may put unscented skin lotion on their registries, since pregnancy can dry out skin and scented lotion can have a negative effect on a developing fetus. The switch to unscented baby lotion can serve as one of many predictors of pregnancy—an issue of keen interest to Target, since expectant mothers can become much more profitable customers.
The Target model, in the words of Siegel, “identified 30 percent more customers for Target to contact with pregnancy-oriented marketing material—a significant marketing success story.”