Introduction to Business Analytics, - a workshop held recently at the Indian School of Business (ISB) helped demystify some common beliefs and preconceived notions regarding business analytics. Organised by Professor Galit Shmueli, Associate Professor of Statistics and SRITNE Chaired Professor of Data Analytics, there were several prominent speakers at the workshop such as Kuldeep Parikh, Strategy Lead, HP Global Analytics, Ajay Kelkar, Chief Operating Officer, HANSA Cequity, and Kishore Rajgopal and Divyabh Mishra, Founders of CrowdANALYTIX. The workshop, which was attended by a packed audience of students, CEOs, directors and entrepreneurs, began with an introductory lecture by Professor Galit Shmueli, who provided a brief overview of business analytics. In her talk, Professor Galit Shmueli gave us the flavor of how analytics has evolved over the years, and how business analytics differs from traditional statistical analytics and optimization. Her talk specifically focused on the power of Predictive Analytics. Professor Shmueli started with clarifying the common misnomer in industry about Predictive Analytics. Most often companies classify Reporting and BI tools as analytics. Professor Shmueli explained the difference between the retrospective nature of reporting and the futuristic nature of predictive analytics; and the aggregate level of reporting verses individual level of personalisation in predictive analytics.
She provided us the framework for Predictive Analytics process; stressing upon the importance of each of the five stages problem identification, measurement to determine outcome and predictors, data partitioning / split between training and holdout datasets, data mining algorithms, and model deployment and evaluation. She gave multiple examples for implementing the framework through various case studies personalised offer in online retail industry, employee training selection, customer churn identification, product level demand forecasting, and probability prediction for customer payments. She touched upon the logic behind Predictive Analytics through a direct marketing example, in the process highlighting the importance of data partitioning, and introducing the algorithms classification and regression trees, regression models, and K-nearest neighbours methods. She concluded by highlighting the vast opportunities of predictive analytics in India citing the diversity in demography, consumer behavior, and regional preferences. Subsequently, Kuldeep Parikh of HP global analytics spoke about the change in world of data“ the growth in distributed, unstructured and extreme data analytics. Based on his experience, he elaborated on what HP analytics does to support the business, the challenges that they face, and their positioning between data sciences and business divisions. His talk was followed by Ajay Kelkar's vision on how data equity will rival/enhance Brand equity in near future. Kelkar particularly highlighted the power of analytics in decision making as against merely deriving the insights out of data. He cited various examples of company projects such as studying the shopping behaviour in hypermarket retail trade and cash vs. credit card customer profiling; closing with stress on importance of listening to data and bridging the last mile gap.The last speakers, Kishore Rajgopal and Divyabh Mishra, founders of Crowd Analytics, a boutique analytics firm innovating crowd sourcing within analytics industry, spoke about their vision of a competitive platform for independent consultants. There was palpable excitement from the audience that took the discussion to a completely different energy level. The session concluded to a packed Khemka Auditorium proving the growing interest in predictive analytics within students and industry.