The Surprising Predictive Power of Analytics

You have been predicted.

Companies, government, universities, law enforcement.  All are using computers to predict what you will do.

Will you click on the link in the email?

When will you die?

Will you pay your credit card bill on time?

Are you pregnant?

Dr. Eric Siegel recently released Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie or Die. It’s a fascinating book that has surprisingly broad ramifications for all of us. Eric is a former Columbia University professor, the founder of Predictive Analytics World and Executive Editor of the Predictive Analytics Times.

Let’s start with the definition. What is predictive analytics?

It’s technology that gives organizations the power not only to predict the future, but to influence it. The shortest definition of predictive analytics is my book’s subtitle, the power to predict who will click, buy, lie, or die. Predictive analytics is the technology that learns from data to make predictions about what each individual will do–from thriving and donating to stealing and crashing your car. By doing so, organizations boost the success of marketing, auditing, law-enforcing, medically treating, educating, and even running a political campaign for president.book_med_2

Why should the average person care about predictive analytics?

Prediction is the key to driving improved decisions, guiding millions of per-person actions. For healthcare, this saves lives. For law enforcement, it fights crime. For business, it decreases risk, lowers cost, improves customer service, and decreases unwanted postal mail and spam. It was a contributing factor to the reelection of the U.S. president.

Let’s jump to politics then. How did President Obama’s campaign gain an edge by using persuasion modeling?

The Obama campaign’s analytics team applied persuasion modeling (aka uplift modeling) in the same way it can be applied to marketing: drive per-person (voter/customer) campaign decisions by way of per-person predictions. If an individual is predicted to be persuadable, then make campaign contact (e.g., a knock on the door). By utilizing resources (campaign volunteers) more effectively in this way, the campaign enacted the new science of mass persuasion. They proved this won them more votes, within swing states and elsewhere.

Everyone is talking about “big data” but data on its own isn’t interesting or useful. You explain how data can show incredibly interesting insights including the fact that if you retire early, your life expectancy drops. Tell me more about that and what else we’ve learned from it.

Beyond the great hype around so much data, the real question is what to do with it. Answer: use data to predict human behavior.

The whole point of data is to learn from it to predict. Talking about how much data there is misses this point. What is the value, the function, the purpose? The one thing that makes the biggest difference to improve how organizations operate is to predict.

9 C’s of Lincoln’s Leadership

Photo by netdance on flickr.

When it was in the theatres, I watched the extraordinary movie Lincoln.  Rarely do I watch a movie a second time, but I’m such an admirer of President Lincoln that I couldn’t wait for its video release.  My family watched it last weekend.  To me, the acting is so perfect that I feel like I am truly watching Lincoln himself.

There are thousands of articles and books about Lincoln.  As I watched the movie, I noted some of his attributes for achieving his goals.  The movie was primarily focused on Lincoln’s goal to pass the Thirteenth Amendment.  Throughout the fight in the House of Representatives, Lincoln was:

1.  Committed.  He was willing to risk his reputation to do what was right.

2.  Clever.  How he won votes in the House of Representatives is part of the story that intrigues me.

3.  Calm.  In the midst of incomprehensible stress, Abraham Lincoln was calm.  He would tell a story, a joke, or quietly sit by himself.

4.  Compromising.  He didn’t compromise his values, but he understood the political necessities and how to negotiate in order to achieve the best possible outcome.

Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing

Photo Courtesy of istockphoto/Henrik5000

Close your eyes and imagine the future. What’s transportation like? How about food preparation? Communication? How about shopping?

Science fiction writers have long allowed us glimpses of possible future worlds. From Star Trek to Minority Report, we are fascinated by the potential of technology.

WAIT UNTIL YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS

One technology that has been around for decades but is only now starting to emerge in the public eye is the world of 3D printing. Science fiction fans, technologists and futurists may grasp this concept faster than most. And though I’m a student of futurists like Dan Burrus, and a frequent attendee of the Consumer Electronic Show, the reality of 3D printing is something my mind struggles to truly grasp.

Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman, leading experts on 3D printing, have written a new book Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing. It’s all about “the promise and peril of a machine that can make (almost) anything.”9781118350638

I recently had the opportunity to ask the authors about this new world and where we are headed.

3D PRINTING TODAY

This technology is already in use today. Give us a few examples of where it’s in use, but we may not even think about it.

Yes, 3D printed products do indeed lurk amongst us in our daily lives. Many people don’t realize that 3D printing technology is not new; in fact, 3D printing has been in use in engineering and manufacturing environments as a prototyping tool for decades. If you look around your office or your car, almost every product — your chair, stapler, eyeglass frame and car mirror — probably started their life as a 3D-printed prototype. What’s new is that in the past few years, an increasing number of everyday actual products — not just prototypes used in the product design process — are made using 3D printing.

The medical field has been one of the first industries to embrace 3D printed products. Most hearing aids these days are 3D printed so they fit exactly the shape of your inner ear. Invisalign™ orthodontic braces are 3D printed, which makes sense since a personal and customized fit is critical when it comes to dental work. Many dentists are 3D printing crowns. On the cutting edge, surgeons are experimenting with 3D printed titanium hip and jaw implants designed using medical scans. If you pair a 3D printer with an optical scanner or a medical image, you can make custom prosthetics more quickly and accurately.

In general, the more a product benefits from being customized or personalized, the more likely it will be made via 3D printing. Right now, 3D printing is too slow and too costly for mass production.3-D printed artificial heart valve

Stick With It

Photo courtesy of istockphoto/Greg Epperson

Lee J. Colan, Ph.D. is a leadership consultant and the author of 12 books, the co-founder of The L Group, and a popular speaker.  His latest book, co-authored with his wife Julie, is Stick with It: Mastering the Art of Adherence.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Lee a few questions about his new book and his extensive experience working in the field of leadership, strategy execution and employee engagement.

Lee, this book is an updated version of a previous bestselling book of yours: Sticking to It.  What led you to update it?

Well, Skip, we had been applying the Adherence Equation for 10 years:

 

Black and White Equation for print

 

We learned from and worked with our clients to hone and develop new tools that support adherence (defined as consistent execution), and we wanted to share our learnings.  Even though I wrote 10 other books during that time, the Adherence Equation still seemed to resonate with organizations of all sizes and industries.  Truth be told, that first book remained my bestseller.  Clearly, I should have stopped after my first one!

I finally decided, with the better judgment of my business partner and wife of 25 years, that we should take our own medicine and FOCUS.  So, we have poured our best stories, examples and tools into this expanded and enhanced follow-up that serves as a roadmap for consistent execution.

Here is the essence of the Adherence Equation:www.stickwithitbook.com

Focus provides the clarity necessary to make decisions that support your most important goals. It results in a clearly defined pathway to success. A sharp focus answers the “what” question – What do you need to do to execute your strategy?

Competence is used in the broadest sense of the term. It encompasses all the skills, systems, processes and tools a team uses to achieve its goals. The result is the ability to commit to, measure and hit your targets. Building competence answers the “how” question – How will you execute your strategy?

Passion creates a sense of connectedness. It creates a connection between teammates, a connection to our human need for meaningful work and a connection to each individual’s sense of value and contribution. Igniting passion answers the “why” question – Why are you executing your strategy?

When Your Parent Becomes Your Child

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Ken Abraham is an author or co-author of more than 80 books.  Regularly appearing on the New York Times best-selling author lists, Ken is known as a master collaborator.  He writes with public figures ranging from One Soldier’s Story with Bob Dole to Let’s Roll with Lisa Beamer.  Ken and his wife are also good personal friends.  His latest book When Your Parent Becomes Your Child is a deviation because instead of writing someone else’s story, Ken writes about his mother’s dementia, and its effect on the family.  This moving story is one that will stay with you and give you a better understanding of what millions of families go through as they fight this disease.

Ken, this book is simply beautiful.  I may never have met your mom in person, but after reading this book, I most definitely know her.  Ken AbrahamWhat was it like writing such a personal story as opposed to helping tell someone else’s?    

Of all the books I’ve written, When Your Parent Becomes Your Child was the most emotionally difficult book to write, yet oddly enough, it was also the easiest book I’ve ever written.  The difficulty stemmed from the subject matter.  Watching my mom make the journey through dementia was a heart-wrenching experience.  But because I was simply sharing my own thoughts and feeling with readers, the words poured out easily.

In a real sense, I felt that I wasn’t merely writing about my mom, but I was expressing the emotions, questions, and concerns of many other people who could share similar stories, who might say, “That sounds exactly like what I have experienced with Mom or Dad.”  My hope is that this book will stimulate conversations within families and encourage hope within the heart of every person who is now grappling with the myriad changes that take place When Your Parent Becomes Your Child.

Your mom suffered with dementia.  Let me turn first to a few questions many ask about dementia. Is Alzheimer’s the same as dementia?

It’s not exactly a “chicken and egg” situation, and the lines do get blurry when we begin talking about Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Technically, dementia is more of a “catch all” term; there are all sorts of dementias, the most familiar of which is Alzheimer’s.

Vascular dementia, with which my mom suffered, is the second most widely reported form of the disease.  The symptoms of both Alzheimer’s and dementia are similar: memory loss, hallucinations, unusual fear, irritability, or suspicions.  Hoarding, uncharacteristic use of profanity, inability to follow a conversation or a story, losing track of possessions, confusion over days, dates, or sadly, even diminishing ability to recognize friends or family members.  All these can be indications that a loved one is developing dementia.

In my mom’s case, although I’m reluctant to admit it, part of the reason I wasn’t alarmed at her memory lapses was that I was clueless about the possible warning signs of Alzheimer’s.  I just thought she was displaying the natural symptoms of aging as she moved into her mid-eighties. Even after she was diagnosed, I remained in denial for several months until my own research convinced me that what her doctor was describing was accurate.DSC02123