It’s certainly clear that predictive analytics provides measureable results and ROI when adopted by organizations such as police departments combating crime, retailers better targeting customers, telcos reducing customer churn, and insurers identifying fraud. It's a competitive advantage with direct and positive impact on both the top and bottom lines.
But, the work Marwell Wildlife, a conservation charity, is accomplishing raises predictive analytics to an entirely new level: the conversation of zebras. For me, this is where this technology really demonstrates its true value and meaning.
As Dr. Seuss so simply, yet eloquently, wrote, "There's no end to the things you might know, depending how far beyond Zebra you go."
This couldn't be truer as it relates to Marwell and its use of IBM SPSS predictive analytics. Marwell now has the power to better identify patterns and analyze large volumes of data that significantly aids in making more informed decisions on conservation measures and to improve the protection of the zebra.
Dr. Guy Parker, head of biodiversity management at Marwell Wildlife, is spearheading this project in collaboration with IBM. To hear him explain more about this project, see his video.
Marwell has two approaches to data collection – they go into the field to conduct surveys with local nomadic herdsmen, who possess the most intimate knowledge of the species, gathering attitudinal data toward the zebras. The herdsmen have very good knowledge about wildlife and the terrain, and interviewing them is a very efficient means of collecting information over this vast and inaccessible area. Secondly, Marwell is combining this data with information obtained from aerial surveys, camera traps and radio collars on the zebras.
Through all of these data sources, Marwell now has a more detailed understanding of the issues surrounding the zebra and is, therefore, able to understand the main threats facing these animals, and better focus limited conservation resources.
Simply put, Marwell is incorporating the same best practices used by many organizations worldwide – combining transactional and demographic data, with attitudinal data – for a complete view of customers, or in this case, zebras – so it is in a better position to make smarter decisions.
I was speaking with a colleague about her recent African safari and she said that "the beauty and majesty of every species – from the zebra to the wildebeest to the lowly warthog – becomes magnified in the wild and their own habitat." Coincidentally, she mentioned that the zebra was one of her favorite animals she saw because they were a rare sighting.
Not to get sappy, but having a better means to protect cool animals like the zebra ensures they’ll be around for our next generations to enjoy. These are the stories that remind us all that using predictive analytics to increase the bottom-line is “black and white,” like the zebra.