Answer Questions about the Future with Smart Predict
by Samantha Wong
A Business Analyst’s goal is to transform data into meaningful insight as quickly and seamlessly as possible to help the business answer tough questions and achieve goals. With a powerful combination of best-in-class business intelligence and intuitive machine learning technology, SAP Analytics Cloud empowers Business Analysts to achieve even better outcomes with next-generation Smart features.
Smart Predict is an SAP Analytics Cloud feature that helps business analysts answer business questions about the future. Smart Predict augments your existing business intelligence capabilities by learning from your historical data before making recommendations on the best action to take for your business.
Unlike traditional methods that require you to select algorithms and set complex parameters, Smart Predict accelerates the process by focusing on the type of business problem that needs solving. Like never before, analysts can leverage intelligent machine learning technology to rapidly move from business question to trustworthy predictions, with little to no data science expertise.
Types of Predictive Scenarios
Smart Predict is currently able to train predictive models that deal with classification, regression, and time-series forecasting scenarios. The scenario you choose depends on the business question you’re trying to answer.
If you’re trying to determine the likelihood of whether or not something will happen, you’re dealing with a classification scenario.
For example, if your question is whether or not your customers will respond to a marketing offer, you can use a classification scenario to determine the probability of response for each of your prospective customers. This allows you to focus your efforts on targeting customers who are most likely to buy.
If you’re trying to predict a numerical value and explore the key drivers behind it you’re dealing with a regression scenario.
For example, if you want to predict the employee employment duration you would use a Smart Predict regression scenario. This will identify relationships in your data to help you better understand what factors lead to long-term employment. The result? These valuable insights can be used to influence your HR policies and reduce employee attrition.
Time Series Scenario
If you’re trying to forecast a future numerical value based on fluctuations over time, seasons, and other internal and external variables, you’re dealing with a time series scenario.
For example, a time-series predictive model can predict future sales volumes by analyzing historical sales data over time. This sales data, combined with additional information about your current sales force, marketing activities, or environmental factors like weather, can be used to project future performance trends.
Answering Business Questions with Smart Predict
Once you have determined the type of problem you’re trying to solve, it’s a case of selecting the historical data to train your predictive model. Within your historical dataset, one of the columns needs to answer the business question at hand. This ensures Smart Predict’s intelligent algorithms can learn from the past.
For example, if you wanted to understand which of your customers would respond to a marketing offer, you would need to have a response yes/no column in your dataset. This column is known as your target variable and it represents the outcome you’re trying to predict. Once you’ve selected your historical data and target variable, Smart Predict takes care of the rest.
Smart Predict uses machine learning to build hundreds of predictive models based on your data and automatically selects the most accurate and stable model that will answer your question.
Once your model is created, you’ll be presented with a model debrief with key information on the model accuracy, applicability to new data, key drivers, and more. At this point, you can use this version of your model to determine your predictions or make a copy and experiment by tweaking the model to drive better accuracy and/or stability.
Once you are satisfied with the model, you’re ready to generate predictions. To do this you’ll select current or future data, such as new customers who have not yet been targeted with your marketing offer, and apply your predictive model. Then, Smart Predict will generate hyper-personalized recommendations to help you determine the best action for every customer, product, store, employee, or vendor in your business.
Predictions have the potential to drive significant business value, but only if they are shared with decision makers at the right time and in the right format. SAP Analytics Cloud is one simple cloud solution that can be used to both generate predictive insight and share them with business stakeholders through visualizations and tables in a story.
Improve your Future Outcomes
Smart Predict is designed to help you make business decisions with confidence. Now, you can quickly move from business questions to actionable insights that will help you capitalize on new opportunities, mitigate risk, and drive the best possible outcome for your business.
When you’re ready to use SAP Analytics Cloud for your own predictive scenarios, we’ve made it easy with SAP Analytics Cloud and Smart Predict.
This article originally appeared on the SAP Analytics Cloud blog and has been republished with permission.