## The Power of Prediction

Over a century before Neil Armstrong landed on the moon and took ‘one giant step for mankind’, the great science fiction author, Jules Verne wrote, more than 100 years before Armstrong took that step, that two men would one day be bound for the moon, aboard a projectile fired from a cannon. This was written in his novel, From the Earth to the Moon.

Verne even set the rocket launch site to take place in Florida, which is now the home of the Kennedy Space Centre.

Then the great, Michel de Nostradamus …

The famous man, born either in 1503 or 1566 (no one is really sure of the date) was an astrologer, physician and the original man of mystery. He predicted a collection of prophecies during his lifetime. From Hitler’s reign to Henry II’s death, he predicted many world events. One of his most explicit forecasts involved the Great Fire of London that consumed the city in 1666. He wrote, “The blood of the just will be lacking in London. Burnt up in the fire of ’66. The ancient Lady will topple from her high place. Many of the same sect will be killed.”

Slightly morbid, but now for one of my favourites.

Nearly 300 years before the first major organ transplant in 1954, Robert Boyle, known as the father of modern chemistry, predicted in a note in his personal journal “the cure of diseases by… transplantation”.  Experts also credit Boyle for the foresight about LSD, aspirin and sleeping pills.

There is not one of us that does not enjoy the chance of predicting how the future will unfold.

The countless conversations we have all had, starting with the words, ‘I bet you’, or ‘you’ll see’, or ‘I’m telling you now’. We are so very similar in so many ways and the accuracy of our predictions gives us great internal pleasure.

And it is the accuracy of these predictions that forms an integral part in the success of any business.

Predictive analytics uses historical data to predict future events. Typically, historical data is used to build a mathematical model that captures important trends. That predictive model is then used on current data to predict what will happen next, or to suggest actions that should be taken to ensure that there is an optimal outcome.

In business, predictive models exploit patterns found in historical and transactional data to identify risks and opportunities. Models capture relationships among many factors to allow assessment of risk or potential associated with a particular set of conditions, guiding decision-making for candidate transactions.

So what about the probability of someone making a payment to the institution they have taken a loan or an insurance policy from? And then what about the probability of actually making contact with one of your customers or perhaps a potential new client?  Then what are the chances of someone reading that marketing email you just sent them and then responding to it? And if they respond, what is the chance of them then completing the application form?

Simply put, the advanced technique of making use of predictive analytics is a process of making predictions about an unknown future event. We use techniques to mine data, complimented with statistical modelling, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to analyse the data available to predict the future.