Starting a Predictive Analytics Initiative

Starting something new is hard.  An exercise regimen, a diet, studying for certification exams.  Getting to the finish and attaining the desired goal is even harder.  Completing a predictive analytics initiative is no different and the first one is particularly hard.

You’ve spent time on research, reading and investigation, and you see the upside.  You know there can be a high return on investment, and a successful outcome can change the culture of your organization.  But you’re a DBA, a BI practitioner or analyst and predictive analytics is new to you and your company.  You want to ensure success but how do you go about it to make sure it works?

There are characteristics that successful initiatives have in common, and the ones listed here are what I’ve seen lead to success.

Tightly couple the team with BI

The predictive analytics initiative should be part of the BI team, or work very closely with it.  Why?  The BI team knows where the data is, how to get it, understands its quality, and has already acquired much of it.  There will be some data needed that BI people don’t care about, but 80% of it will overlap.

Hire a Data Scientist or assign the role

Make someone the data scientist, either by title or role.  You’ll have to decide whether to bring them in from outside the organization, or assign someone with the essential skills, but make sure the role is occupied.

Buy, Open Source, or use what you own

Don’t get hung up on which tools to use.  There are many good tools out there and you probably already own some of them, so use what you know and have.  Do you have to use R to be successful?  No, although much of what you read makes it sound like you do.  But also consider which open source tools may help augment your development suite.

Choose a Focused Goal

Make the first initiative you pursue focused on trying to solve a single problem.  This is true of most of BI development.  We shouldn’t build a whole data warehouse in one shot, don’t try to solve every predictive problem out there.  And choose one management will get behind, like churn or upselling.

Give it Time

To get good results requires time.  It takes anywhere from 4-12 months to put a solutions into production.

All the parts that go into a successful initiative will be covered at my pre-con at the PASS Summit titled Predictive Analytics in the Enterprise.

What to expect in a day of Predictive Analytics

SQL Saturday is coming this weekend in Baton Rouge, LA and I’m presenting a full day pre-con on Friday on Predictive Analytics.  It’s a full day deep dive on how to start using Predictive Analytics in your organization, and ideal for people who are brand new to the field.

What should you expect in a full day session like this, besides singing, dancing and a few jokes?

To give you an idea as to what’s covered, here’s an outline of the agenda for the day.  I hope you can make it, and there is still time to register by clicking on this link:

Predictive Analytics in the Enterprise

Early Morning

  • Predictive Modeling Overview
  • SQL Server Data Mining, Analysis Service and Excel
  • Predictive Model by Class

Late Morning

  • Case Studies
  • Tools and Algorithms
  • Demo\Lab 1 – Develop Hiring Model

After Lunch

  • Use Models with DMX – C#, SSIS, SSRS
  • Demo\Lab 2 – Develop College Model

Mid Afternoon

  • Demo – Neural Network Code
  • Exercise 1 – Develop Churn Model
  • Demo 3 – Discuss alternative tools such as R, WEKA, RapidMiner

Late Afternoon

  • Deployment and Monitoring
  • Exercise 2 – Develop Movie Recommendation Model
  • Exercise 3 – Develop Stock Price Prediction Model

Predictive Analytics Pre-con at SQL Saturday #324 in Baton Rouge

I’m presenting a full day pre-con on Friday, August 1 in Baton Rouge, LA on titled Predictive Analytics in the Enterprise and there is still time to register!  You may have heard about predictive analytics and are wondering what it is all about, and this session will answer all your questions.  But it will also get you thinking about what you could be doing with your data, and it will get the juices in your brain flowing about the amazing things that can be done with predictive modeling.  People that come to this session usually leave excited and are hungry to try out the new concepts they just learned.

In the session, I’ll show you how to start and be successful with a predictive modeling project in your organization.  I’ll provide an overview of predictive analytics, discuss the concepts and ideas behind the subject, use case studies to review successful projects I’ve worked on, and demonstrate how predictive models are built.   I’ll also have a number of labs for the class to use as exercises so you can leave the session having built your own predictive models.  To participate, bring your laptop or plan to share with someone.  I have a lot of material to go through in just one day.

In addition to my pre-con, Ryan Adams will also be doing a pre-con the same day and location called A Day of High Availability and Disaster Recovery.

Also, don’t forget Saturday, a full day of free training.  It’s always top-notch gathering of SQL Professionals and I expect it to be this year also.

Click here to register:  Predictive Analytics in the Enterprise

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