Predictive Analysis Meets Unpredictable Humans

More than a decade ago, a popular science fiction thriller called The Minority Report posed a conflict between free will and determinism. The film featured a specialized “pre-crime” police unit that received foreknowledge of criminals that allowed arrests to be made before a crime was committed. In this on-screen battle of free will vs. determinism, human choice won out. The main character defied the data that predicted he was destined to become a murderer.

Off-screen, the question of which force is more powerful remains, and is increasingly important in the business world.

The quest to understand customer behavior

Marketers fight this familiar battle every day. How can they predict customer behavior? How can they engage customers and persuade them to purchase their product or service?  Predictive Analysis tools can be used to mine and analyze the data to anticipate behavior. The goal of predictive analysis is to move from reactive to proactive — to go beyond predicting behavior to understand the behavior at a deeper level. This allows businesses to intervene at critical points in the customer decision process to determine a different destiny.

How far has predictive analysis come in lessening the unpredictable outcome of human behavior? Considerably far. Think about today’s shopping experience. Location-based services allow businesses to intercept shoppers “in the now” with targeted mobile offers that anticipate customer needs in real-time. Location-aware applications can push coupons onto mobile devices as customers enter the store. Offers can be tailored based on past purchases from a specific designer or manufacturer. By intervening during the shopping experience, technology can change the outcome of the experience.

The power of the human element

Certainly technology has come a long way in determining human needs. Does that mean the unpredictability and influence of the human factor will eventually go away? Probably not.

The human spirit is unfailingly strong. But even as humans continue to prevail, the analysis of intelligence will also grow increasingly clever. Forward thinking businesses are merging both the analytical and the human element into the business-to-buyer exchange. They are combining the customer data they collect with predictive analysis techniques to create highly personalized experiences – bringing the human factor to their customer interactions at just the right time.

In the end, decision-making is a uniquely human behavior. Companies that remind themselves of this regularly stand the best chance of attracting, delighting, and retaining their customers.

How is your business balancing the human factor with the power of predictive analysis in better understanding your customers?


The Networking Exchange Blog Team About NEB Team