In our recent interviews with industry thought leaders, we noticed a recurring theme: the demand for prescriptive analytics solutions. Experts in virtually all vertical markets — manufacturing, healthcare, government, field service — are advising ISVs to respond to the growing demand and develop applications that include prescriptive analytics.
Data Analytics on the Next Level
The majority of applications on the market fall into either the “descriptive” or “predictive” analytics categories. Descriptive analytics summarizes raw data, like sales figures, engagement stats on social media, or counts from a foot traffic sensor. Predictive analytics solutions use those numbers to predict what comes next: expected sales based on last season, social engagement for a particular type of campaign, or the number of people that will pass through a museum on a typical Saturday afternoon.
Prescriptive analytics solutions take that data and go a step further to provide intelligent recommendations. For example, based on sales figures, a prescriptive analytics solution could schedule staff or order inventory. A prescriptive application could suggest which types of social posts and ads to use to get a desired outcome and schedule them at optimal times. Or your solution could use traffic counter data to recommend when to schedule cleaning and maintenance for a facility and even automatically submit a ticket for the work. In general, prescriptive analytics allow you to automate some decision-making and save your clients time.
Why All Industries Need Prescriptive Solutions
There are several trends driving the demand for prescriptive solutions, and they’re common to virtually all markets:
- People are busier. Businesses in all industries are looking for ways to improve efficiency, to accomplish more work using the same amount of energy. Whether it’s to compensate for increasing raw material and energy costs, improve customer retention rates in a competitive retail environment, or manage the shifting the focus to value-based healthcare, your clients need to find ways to increase productivity — without increasing the number of employees. If your software application can handle some decisions, for example automating preventive maintenance in a smart factory, it frees employees to focus their time on mission-critical and revenue-producing tasks.
- People are becoming inundated with data. Businesses are still trying to figure out how to manage data most effectively. In some cases, data is just passed through to people or departments, creating more of a burden than a benefit for those users. Employees looking for relief from a heavy workload may spend part of a shift sorting through data and then take time to figure out next steps, which could take additional time, not save it.
- Data is only valuable if you pay attention to it. A deluge of data can create a boy-who-cried-wolf effect. An example is alarm fatigue in the healthcare industry. Healthcare professionals can receive nearly constant alarms from applications, communications, and patient monitors to the point where they start to ignore them. In this example, too many alerts and alarms literally create a life-or-death situation. Develop applications that, instead of just sending data along, send recommendations or automate actions. With your application, the user will know an alarm is definitely high priority.
- Customer expectations are higher. Whether your customer is providing services to another business, to a retail consumer, or a healthcare patient, they need to raise the level of customer experiences they provide. Business clients and consumers know technology exists that can make their interactions with a brand or provider more convenient, perfectly timed, accurate — overall, better. Your customers are looking for ways to meet those expectations and compete with other businesses that can deliver what their customers are looking for.
Prescription for a Successful ISV
Based on what industry leaders are reporting to DevPro Journal, ISVs should turn their focus to developing applications that include prescriptive analytics. Don’t stop at an analysis of data to describe the status quo or to make a prediction for what is likely to come next. Build solutions that recommend next steps (and in some cases, carry them out) which can save your clients time and money. It will take a deep understanding of your client’s business, but the return for your investment promises to be a solid relationship with the client and a solution with the potential to be used throughout the industry.