SPSS wrapped up its Directions EMEA conference today and what a spectacular event it's been. Given what I've seen and heard over the past two days I've come up with five predictions about SPSS and predictive analytics that I'm prepared to stand by, even once I've come down from this steak-with-pears-and-gorgonzola-sauce-induced high:
Tomorrow I change gears somewhat, as the business analytics program at IOD EMEA gets under way. I'll still be here, tweeting, blogging and, if prediction #5 comes true, I won't be doing these recaps in the dark.
- Companies will get very serious about predictive analytics very quickly: Retailers, hospitals, police departments and manufacturers will soon discover what insurance companies, banks and telcos have known for years: Spotting and solving problems before they happen is a great way to cut costs, optimize decisions, increase customer loyalty and simply perform at a consistently higher level. Over the past two days I've seen a parade of innovative examples of this happening right now. To my mind there isn't a business process or decision that can't be optimized for better performance though predictive analytics.
- Companies will get very serious about unstructured data very soon: This was a real eye-opener for me. Yes, I can see how a retailer or telco might want to watch for customers venting spleen about lousy service or shoddy quality all over the blogosphere. But when one of Europe's largest banks scans the blogs to feed its risk management models, that's another avenue entirely. There wasn't a keynote, client or product marketer session that didn't make at least a passing reference to the importance of getting your arms around what customers are saying and making profitable sense of it.
- The Ferrari that is SPSS will find that second gear. And the third, and the fourth, and the fifth: With the business-friendly capabilities and expanded industry expertise baked into SPSS Decision Management 6, SPSS will provide even more value to its core user constituency and its emerging business user base. Soon, they too will need to strap themselves in for a wild, wild ride.
- SPSS clients will want to come back to Rome: This applies whether there's a business analytics conference or not. Three days in the Eternal City and so far every bite, every sight has been "wow." I have since struck major to-dos off my bucket list and re-thought my relationship with Mozzarella. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
- By the end of the week, I will have mastered the light switches at the Marriott. Of course I need to keep my key in the key slot to keep them on. Of course the light to the mini bar is next to the bed.