Dis­cov­er­ing the what-if po­ten­tial of an­a­lyt­ics

Over the next few years, ex­pect an­a­lyt­ics to be far more per­va­sive and in­tel­li­gent than it is now

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What if you were born in a world where there are no traf­fic jams, a world where heart at­tacks can be pre­dicted months in ad­vance be­fore they oc­cur, where ma­chines squeak their sta­tus just be­fore they break down? While this looks fu­tur­is­tic, this smart era could dawn on us sooner than you think, if the ef­forts of some of the pi­lot projects in pre­dic­tive an­a­lyt­ics suc­ceed.

Con­sider these projects: Town plan­ners at Los Angeles have built the Au­to­mated Traf­fic Sur­veil­lance and Con­trol Sys­tem. The sys­tem syn­chro­nizes 4,500 traf­fic sig­nals across the re­gion, and mag­netic sen­sors in the road at ev­ery in­ter­sec­tion send real-time up­dates about the traf­fic flow. The sys­tem an­a­lyzes the data and au­to­mat­i­cally uses this anal­y­sis to pre­dict where traf­fic is likely to snarl. With the new sys­tem, the aver­age time to drive 5 miles in the city has been re­duced from 20 min­utes to 17.2 min­utes.

The Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health (NIH) is work­ing with part­ners like IBM to de­velop an an­a­lyt­ics sys­tem that can help doc­tors de­tect heart fail­ure years ear­lier. With enough lead time, pa­tients can make the re­quired life­style changes and take the re­quired med­i­ca­tions to save their lives.

GE Avi­a­tion is ex­per­i­ment­ing with us­ing pre­dic­tive an­a­lyt­ics to an­tic­i­pate when a CNC ma­chine, used to make air­plane en­gine parts, is about to break down, so that its staff can carry out pre­ven­tive main­te­nance and avoid de­lay­ing the de­liv­ery of a fin­ished en­gine. Us­ing an­a­lyt­ics, health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions are even per­son­al­iz­ing treat­ments for cancer pa­tients, based on their DNA. Closer home, IT ser­vices firm, Mindtree, is us­ing HR an­a­lyt­ics to pre­dict em­ployee turnover for the next 90 days.

Over the next few years, ex­pect an­a­lyt­ics to be far more per­va­sive and in­tel­li­gent than it is now. For ex­am­ple, IBM pre­dicts that within the next five years, our dig­i­tal lives will be pro­tected by ‘dig­i­tal guardians’ who con­stantly watch over our dig­i­tal lives us­ing cloud-based an­a­lyt­ics to spot de­vi­a­tions and chances of fraud.

A pre­cur­sor to what can be ex­pected in the near fu­ture can be seen from Gart­ner’s re­cent pre­dic­tion, where the re­search firm pre­dicted ‘your smart­phone will be smarter than you by 2017.’ Gart­ner says that smart­phones will soon be able to pre­dict a con­sumer’s next move, their next pur­chase or in­ter­pret ac­tions based on what it knows. For in­stance, if there is heavy traf­fic, Gart­ner re­searchers say that your smart­phone will pre­dict that you are likely to be late, and ac­cord­ingly wake you up early for mak­ing it in time for a meet­ing. The de­ci­sion is made us­ing con­tex­tual in­for­ma­tion gath­ered from the cal­en­dar of the user, weath­er­re­lated in­for­ma­tion and the user’s lo­ca­tion.

The fu­ture is much closer than we think, as the us­age of an­a­lyt­ics is only limited to our imag­i­na­tion.

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