The Washington Post

I originally published this article in The Washington Post.  The article relates to my book, Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die.

Prediction, Influence and the Future of Power

The role prediction played in the 2012 presidential election taught both the political and business worlds an important lesson:  True power comes from influencing the future rather than merely predicting it.

Blogger Nate Silver may have successfully forecast the election results, but President Obama’s team quietly used predictive analytics to sway which way the winds would blow, discovering which individual voters were more likely to be positively influenced by campaign contact.

But this is only one example of how the prediction of individuals’ wants, needs and behaviors holds the power to change outcomes.

Businesses, much like political campaigns, benefit from moving beyond the forecasting of broad trends to the forming of individual, per-person predictions. In the business world, these predictions drive the detailed operations of marketing, risk management, and fraud detection one customer at a time.

Now, rest assured, a doctorate isn’t required to understand how computers churn out tens of thousands—or even millions—of predictions. The principles behind predictive analytics are relatively easy to understand.

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