Should you be Learning more about Machine Learning Algorithms?


More and more businesses are switching from reacting to situations to anticipating them. How do they do this?

In order to anticipate or predict a situation, an organization must have a business question in mind. Questions such as:

Is this a fraudulent transaction or not?

Will the stock price in the next week go up or not?

Is this particular person a credit risk or not?

Will this customer buy item ‘A’ or not?

How many units will be sold next week?

What will the stock price be tomorrow? etc

The best way to make business decisions is to analyse the relevant historical data and to identify the patterns in the data. To identify the relevant data, it is important that the analyst speaks with the domain experts to help them identify the relevant data. Further, it is not only the analysis of the historical data (being reactive always) that can help answer the above business questions. It is also important that businesses use predictive data (being proactive and sometimes preventing negative activity) to help answer the above questions.

Machine Learning is a method for data analysis, in particular, Machine Learning Algorithms focus on using the relevant data inputs to make Predictions for the business or Classify the business products, services or customers.

Machine Learning is an algorithm that explores the data for patterns and identifies the key data (factors) that will help the business to predict/classify its target outcome of interest (like the above business questions). Machine Learning uses statistical techniques (such as the logistic regression, neural networks, decision tress, etc) and computer programming languages (such as Python, R, SAS, Matlab, etc) to automate the predictive/classification models using algorithms that iteratively learn from the data and find the hidden insights that humans would not usually have known about. These hidden insights are like ‘gold for the business’ as they usually improve the business predictions/classifications without being explicitly programmed where to look. The Machine Learning Algorithms further improve when they are regularly updated with new data and knowledge.

For Machine Learning Algorithms to be effective, it is important for businesses to be able to capture the relevant, good quality data in real time or almost real time and to allow the right people in the business to apply the predictions/classifications timely and thereby gain advantage over their competitors.

Are you interested in learning more about machine learning algorithms and how your business can improve its sales/predictions and become ore efficient? Contact me at

Making the Most of Big Data Now…

When it comes to actually mining Big Data for insights, many companies don’t know where to start or focus on the wrong things and get bogged down…. I say with confidence, Data Visualization is your Key, to making the most of Big Data!

Condensing piles of data to just a few charts is a balancing act of art and science. The visualization should narrate what the next short-term actions should be in order to improve the business outcome.All you need is a few charts with great data visualization – and this is worth 1,000 slides.


The next good tip is –  keep reports easy to understand and don’t forget the actionable steps that need to be taken based on the visualization insights or report insights. Your data visualization should always include recommendations as to what the business user or decision maker need to do.

It’s a 4 step process, ‘DATA – VISUAL INSIGHTS – ACTION – MEASURE’

When it comes to Big Data, it’s important to ask the right questions about what kind of information can empower your business, and your customers.

Identify trends and looking at what people are looking out for during that period. Information can be rendered useless or useful during different periods in your customers’ life.

For example, we found 35 out of 450,000 customers who were at high risk of leaving. That’s a small number, but the loss of those customers would have meant a loss of about $3.75 million dollars.


If the company had waited for a completed data warehouse implementation, this insight would have been missed and the company would have been in danger of closure!

7 Items your Business Needs to consider, to Influence Customer Buying Behaviour?

People – Process – Data – Domain Knowledge – Technology – Analytics – Plan

The above 7 items is all you need. But I would like to start off by saying that:

“Every Business is unique! Every business has its own leadership, Culture, Products, Pricing, Marketing, Customers, Technology, Processes, Analytics”.

It therefore makes sense to acknowledge that every business has it’s own needs, it’s own business questions that need to be answered at any specific point in time. Questions such as Which of our customers are buying product A, How can we increase our number of customers by 20%, How do most of our customers buy from us, What is the customer process for buying our products, When can we expect our customers to change their buying behaviour, How can we reduce churn?

Your data can answer all these questions. You may have several sources of data such as

  • Descriptive – demographic, geographic,
  • Attitudinal – preferences, needs,
  • Interaction – Email, web, call centres
  • Behavioural – transactions, payment history, usage
  • Website Activity – Number of customers, Number of conversions,
  • Social Media – Positive Sentiments versus Negative Sentiments

To influence your customer behaviour, that is, to get customers to do what you want them to do, your business needs the right People, the right Processes and the right Plan in place. Talking to your business domain experts and then taking the relevant data necessary to answer your business question through the use of technology and tools such as SPSS, SAS, R, etc businesses can uncover key insights that will greatly assist them with proactive decision making and business strategy.

Now, what do I mean by the right People? The right people refers to the right employees and the right customers. Having the right employees, means that your business must have the right talent who have enough experience in the industry and with your products as well as the right analytic skill set to better understand the data and how to derive business insights from it.

Having the right customers, means that your business understands exactly who are their target customers, what they like, what they dislike, what they perceive as being most important and what are their current needs.

Having the Right Processes in place, is all about having processes in place at each of the customer touch points where by your business can engage or incentivise your customers to buy your product or service and integrate all the data from a single customer as a single view. This is where the power of the analytics lie. By integrating all you know about your customers into one file, you are able to determine relationships between different customer activities that allow you to make offers or to the right customer, at the right time with the right product offer using the right channel.

What about the Right Plan. How does your ensure that they have the Right Plan? I wold say, it all about the 7 items that your business needs to consider and taking each of them into account, your analyst will have enough information to decide how best to answer the business questions. Based on the business question, your analyst will identify the best statistical techniques and tools that need to be used to provide your business with accurate and reliable results to strategy and proactive decide on what is the best approach to successfully achieve the business goal.

Please share any questions you may have at this point…I will follow on from here next time with some common business questions and the statistical technique and approach that may be used.