Apr-Jun 2012

Business Analytics: Essential for Defining Strategy for Companies

“Introduction to Business Analytics,” a workshop held recently at the Indian School of Business (ISB) helped demystify some preconceived notions regarding business analytics. In addition to Professor Galit Shmueli, Associate Professor of Statistics and SRITNE Chaired Professor of Data Analytics, the other prominent speakers at the workshop included Kuldeep Parikh, Strategy Lead, HP Global Analytics; Ajay Kelkar, Chief Operating Officer, Hansa Cequity; and Kishore Rajgopal and Divyabh Mishra, Founders of CrowdANALYTIX.

A packed audience of students, CEOs, directors and entrepreneurs listened intently as Professor Galit Shmueli gave the introductory lecture of the much- awaited workshop. Providing a brief over view of business analytics, Professor Galit Shmueli spoke about the evolution of analytics and how business analytics differs from traditional statistical analytics and optimisation. Her talk specifically focused on the power of predictive analytics, clarifying a common misconception on this subject. Companies often classify Reporting and BI (Business Intelligence) tools as analytics. Professor Shmueli explained the difference between the retrospective nature of reporting and the futuristic nature of predictive analytics and also the aggregate level of reporting vs. the individual level of personalisation in predictive analytics.

She provided the framework for the 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 using various case studies – personalised offers in the online retail industry, employee training selection, customer churn identification, product level demand forecasting and probability prediction for customer payments. She also touched upon the logic underlying predictive analytics with an example on direct marketing, in the process highlighting the importance of data partitioning, and introducing specific algorithms – classification and regression trees, regression models and K-nearest neighbour methods.

She concluded by highlighting the vast opportunities for applying predictive analytics in India citing the diversity in demography, consumer behaviour and regional preferences.

Next, Kuldeep Parikh of HP Global Analytics spoke about the “change in the 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 or enhance brand equity in near future.” Kelkar stressed on the power of analytics in “decision making as against merely deriving” the insights from data. He cited various examples of company projects such as studying shopping behaviour in the hypermarket retail trade and cash vs. credit card customer profiling, and closed by reinforcing the importance of “listening to data and bridging the last mile gap.”

The final speakers, Kishore Rajgopal and Divyabh Mishra, founders of Crowd Analytics, a boutique analytics firm innovating crowd sourcing within the analytics industry, described their vision of a competitive platform for independent consultants. The audience’s palpable excitement and enthusiasm for the subject brought tremendous energy to the discussion.

Piyush Chourashiya from PGP Class of 2013 contributed to this report.

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