Predictive Analytics: Use Your Noodle

by Barb Cote on April 23, 2010

Barb Coté

This week I stumbled upon some powerful predictions about emerging technology. Funny thing about these predictions, they were all made by well-respected, influential leaders of that period of time, and they were ALL WRONG!

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”
Western Union internal memo, 1876

“Radio has no future.”
Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1897

“The average American family hasn’t time for television.”
The New York Times, 1939

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
Thomas Watson, Chairman, IBM, 1949

“640K ought to be enough for anybody.”
Bill Gates, 1981

Perhaps they should have traded their gut for their brain. You might think that the gut would be right at least 50% of the time, but “statistics show that more ideas flop than fly.”1 When it comes to predicting the future, we should apply scientific measures — such as predictive analytics — which involves analyzing historical data to increase marketing effectiveness.

What is Predictive Analytics?

Simply put, business intelligence technology that produces a predictive score for each customer or prospect.

To learn more about Predictive Analytics, visit

Quoting from the website, “Predictive analytics optimizes marketing campaigns and website behavior to increase customer responses, conversions and clicks, and to decrease churn. Each customer’s predictive score informs actions to be taken with that customer — business intelligence just doesn’t get more actionable than that.”

At their annual conference, Predictive Analytics World announced the results of its survey of current and future users of predictive analytics software and services, vendors and consultants. The survey findings indicate a widespread move toward predictive analytics technology in order to guide better business and marketing decisions.

The most promising insight revealed by the Predictive Analytics World survey is that the majority of respondents who have deployed predictive analytics have attained a positive ROI, even for their least successful initiatives. In their most successful deployment of predictive analytics, 90.1 percent of respondents saw a lift in ROI.2

Eric Siegel, Ph.D., and Conference Chair, gave the keynote address titled 7 Innovative uses of analytics.

Innovative applications were the main topic of Seigel’s talk, and he encouraged attendees to use predictive analytics to innovate inside their organization where they could have the biggest impact.

One innovative use Siegel described is called Predicting the success of startups.

YouNoodle is a place to discover and support the hottest early-stage companies and university innovation,” Siegel said. “They develop decision-making technology and tools for the startup world.”

Using a tool called Start-up Predictor, YouNoodle predicts startup’s success using data collected from financial data, founders, news feeds, etc. This same data is used to generate clusters of startups. It estimates what a startup will be worth in 3 years!

Perhaps if the “Poor Predictors” listed above had used their “YouNoodles,” they would have made different predictions about the fate of the telephone, radio, and TV.


  1. Page 3, “The Fallible Gut, A Marketer’s Guide to Surviving Intuition”
  2. Copyright 2008, by Steve Cuno

About the Author:

Barb Cote serves as the Creative Director at SIGMA Marketing Group.  Connect with Barb on or follow her on .

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

James Taylor November 3, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Thanks for the link to my blog. The problem with some of the stories you quote is that they feed the myth that analytics are about “aha moments” when the real value comes from continuous improvement in decision making through the useof analytics. Using analytics to make this transaction, this offer, this interaction a little better by making predictions about a customer, a product purchase or a deal is where folks should focus, not on making broad predictions about markets or businesses.

This is a regular topic in my blogging – check out and


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