What ever happened to Data Collection Reports for Surveys?

The good news is, it is a product that is still very much alive and in development, albeit it has had a long history of ownership and name changes! Back in the mists of time Data Collection Reports for Surveys was a staple component of the SPSS Market Research suite of tools. When the company SPSS and all its analytical software tools were acquired by IBM back in 2009 the full suite of tools were rebranded and Data Collection Reports for Surveys became IBM SPSS Survey Reporter. Arguably an improvement on its previous moniker which was a bit of a […]

5 key trends affecting technical training provision in predictive analytics

I have been in the business of delivering software applications and solutions that have advanced and predictive analytics at their core, in one form or another, for last 25 years. In a recent conversation with colleagues we were discussing how the wider market has changed and, more specifically, how this has affected the way that people who analyse data, create predictive models and help their organisations use them go about developing their skills and keeping them up to date. It feels to us that the dramatic developments in the availability and use of technology have had an equivalent impact on […]

Analytics predictions for 2018

As it is the end of the year I’ve decided to devote this blog post to some thoughts on where we see the analytics market going in 2018. Unlocking the analytics potential of unstructured data Enterprises are collecting ever greater quantities of unstructured data. A recent survey by Forbes showed that the number of organisations with over 100 terabytes of unstructured data has doubled in the last two years. However the same survey showed that only 32% of organisations have successfully analysed unstructured data. We see this changing in 2018 as the power and sophistication of text analytics platforms develops […]

Thinking of hiring a data analyst? What skills should they have?

Many of our clients regularly hire new analysts and we’re often involved in discussions about what the core skills are that they should be looking for. Similarly, I often talk to people looking to build a career in analytics who want to know what skills they need to develop. The most skilled analysts are in high demand because they blend together a range of skills that are rarely found in a single person. Here are the things that I think are really key. Domain knowledge about your industry It’s not enough just to have the technical skills. As we have […]

Why R can be hard to learn

Many of the analysts we speak to are being pushed over to R, primarily because it’s open source and therefore a free alternative to commercial data analytics packages for which the costs can sometimes run into tens of thousands of pounds (or more). However, even experienced analysts often find that getting to grips with R can be a difficult business. Many people view R as being notoriously difficult to learn. There are a number of reasons why this is the case. Lack of consistency In some ways the open source nature of R is its biggest weakness as well as […]

How repeatable application templates will maximise the effectiveness of your first predictive analytics project

As we help our clients get up and running with the predictive analytics tools and skills they need, we see some trends emerging in terms of the kind of applications for which clients tend to use predictive analytics most commonly. These are what we call ‘repeatable application templates’. In my previous post I outlined the 4 reasons  why we believe predictive analytics is a low risk, high return way for many companies to achieve competitive advantage. I have re-capped these below for reference: Implementing predictive analytics is less expensive, quicker and lower risk than almost any other kind of technology-enabled project You already have […]

Four reasons why getting started with predictive analytics is simpler than you think

We spend a great deal of our time at Smart Vision helping our clients to establish the use of predictive analytics in their business. For many organisations, getting started with predictive analytics can feel like a real departure from more traditional and familiar areas of activity. That said, organisations in almost every industry sector are becoming increasingly aware that to maintain a competitive edge it’s necessary to have detailed customer, product and operational insight; and that data analysis and modelling of organisational data is a required capability and key source of competitive advantage. In this post I want to talk about […]

10 reasons why your organisation is ready for prescriptive analytics

Prescriptive analytics is a relatively recent development beyond the broader disciplines of predictive analytics and data science. In this blog post I want to explain a bit about what it is and discuss why I think many organisations are already on the road to using it, without even knowing it. Prescriptive analytics is the third of three phases of analytics. Phase one, descriptive analytics, is about mining historical data to understand the reasons behind past performance. Phase two, predictive analytics, uses rules and algorithms to determine the probability of an event occurring in the future. Phase three, prescriptive analytics, takes […]

How can predictive analytics help retailers weather the economic storm?

In this blog post I’m going to suggest  some ways in which predictive analytics can help retailers weather the economic storm they’re currently facing. The UK’s battered retail sector has been enduring an ongoing perfect storm following the financial crisis of 2007 / 2008.  The government would like us to believe that things are much better now.  The truth is that economic recovery has been slow and patchy at best. Think of Tesco’s recent problems, declining sales from all of the UK’s major supermarkets and repeated profit warning from the likes of Asos to name but a few. We’d be naive […]

Predictive analytics – what can you do with your results?

I talked in my last blog post about the confusion that often emerges around how much data is enough to effectively deploy predictive analytics.  I argued that sample selection is much more important than sample size when it comes to ensuring accurate results. As an example I talked about two political polls from the 1936 US presidential election. The Literary Digest used a large (2.4 million) but heavily biased sample and got the prediction badly wrong. George Gallup, by comparison, got to within 1% of the actual election result using a much smaller sample (only 50,000) but that was much […]

Predictive analytics – how much data do you really need?

When I’m talking to prospective clients something I hear a lot is ‘but we don’t really have enough data to do any data mining’. It’s a common misconception that you need vast terabytes of data to be able to do anything meaningful in terms of analytics. In fact there are a number of similar misconceptions about data mining and predictive analytics that I want to talk about in this blog post. Myth one: it’s only worth mining huge datasets It’s certainly true that many data mining projects do involve working with massive datasets and these tend to be the ones […]

Predictive analytics: how small improvements can deliver big results

It never ceases to surprise me at the wide array of interesting and smart folks we have the privilege to meet through the course of our work at Smart Vision Europe. We are two months into 2014 and I have been checking back on my diary to make sure there are no loose ends. I’m encouraged by how busy we are and by the diverse range of businesses we’re talking to – so much so that I thought it was worth sharing. The purpose of sharing is not to showboat about how busy we are but to reinforce the point […]

Why should charities invest in in-house predictive analytics?

Predictive analytics can really pay dividends for charities but I often find that such organisations are reluctant to invest in it or unsure of what value it can really bring. Smart Vision Europe has worked with quite a number of charities with the aim of helping them benefit from the power of predictive analytics. Over time, I’ve found that a number of common themes come up during the initial conversations with such organisations. The lovely people to whom we speak are working hard on behalf of their organisations and, regardless of the nature of the charity, tend to be wrestling […]

How real is real-time offline advertising?

Real time advertising is a hot topic right now. Over the last few months I’ve read a growing number of articles about how advertisers will soon be able to target their customers in real-time. Of course real-time advertising is nothing new online, what’s new here is the possibility of being able to do it in our offline lives as well. Just this last week Tesco was in the news. It has been testing the use of facial recognition systems to target interactive poster advertising based on gender. It seems we’re not a million miles away from the kind of personally […]

Deployment of analytics – a great example of the Anna Karenina principle?

The Anna Karenina principle describes an endeavour in which a deficiency in any one of a number of factors dooms it to failure. Consequently, a successful endeavour (subject to this principle) is one where every possible deficiency has been avoided. The name of the principle derives from Leo Tolstoy's book Anna Karenina, which begins “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” In this blog post I want to focus on one particular phase of the predictive analytics process – deployment.  As the Anna Karenina principle suggests, there are an infinite number of ways […]

Could predictive analytics be the answer to Network Rail’s maintenance problems?

I read with interest, a little dismay and a dash of sympathy the recent news about the problems Network Rail is facing with customer delays. I’m a regular user of the UK railway network and the experience can be frustrating, especially when caught up in delays and disruption. However as a business owner myself I’m also sympathetic to the challenges of running what must be a mind-warpingly complex system of moving parts (literally), potential risk and public liability, commercial and operational interdependencies. Add to that a large portion of governmental regulation and healthy slice of the political hot potato. This got me to thinking of some […]