Predictive Analytics Forecast: Sunny with Good Chance of Success

Open Source Technology, Data Access, Curious Employees Produce Results for Early Adapters

St. Louis, MO – September 2, 2016 –  The forecast for predictive analytics -- the practice of applying statistical models to a wide variety of data to identify trends and opportunities -- is good thanks to open source technology, accessible data and inquisitive staff members. That is some insight shared by predictive analytics executives of three St. Louis organizations at a TDK Technologies Data Solutions roundtable.

Dan Sherman (Graybar), Jim Foppe (Panera Bread) Jeromey Farmer (Federal Reserve Bank St. Louis) shared their experiences with a gathering of IT executives from 18 prominent St. Louis area organizations August 31, 2016.

The three organizations represented on the panel are relatively early in their predictive analytics journeys. For example, Panera, the St. Louis headquartered chain of fast casual bakery-cafes, has been laying the groundwork to take advantage of the free Hadoop ecosystem for processing large and diverse datasets. Foppe said open source solutions put predictive analytics within reach for organizations looking for new opportunities or seeking to manage risk.

“Our CIO has a deep background in analytics and data. So I was able to leverage a question his leadership was asking about infrastructure and get some answers that were reliable and more accurate,” Foppe said.

Farmer is building an advanced analytics team that is studying government payments, one of the Federal Reserve’s first endeavors in analytics for an agency that has lots of data available. In addition to putting the correct technology and skill sets in place, developing proper data governance procedures is critical.

“To be good at it, we need lots of data. So we are procuring data and setting up governance because we’re in a highly regulated space that requires a lot of security,” Farmer said. “But people are starting to see some of the benefits. In a quasi-government or government situation, it just takes time for people to become at ease. We are dealing with all agencies. And regardless of what agency you are dealing with, some accept it right away where others don’t.”

Graybar’s Sherman said it is important to build awareness across the organization about the potential for predictive analytics to monetize existing data. He noted that building the platform from open source technology represented a relatively low-risk decision by executives supporting the initiative, which produced some early wins that would have not been possible before.

“You have to help your audience understand that predictive is about a level of confidence, not that it will show a 100 percent outcome. In other words, to what degree of confidence does that model show you can get the result that it’s showing?” Sherman said.

All three panelists agreed that hiring problem-solvers with high levels of curiosity, in addition to the technical skills required to analyze data, is important when assembling predictive analytics teams.

The roundtable was led by Larry Steele, Director of Data Solutions at TDK Technologies. 

About TDK Technologies

TDK Technologies, LLC is a Woman-owned Business Enterprise (WBE), established in 2001, with more than 100 team members located in the St. Louis metropolitan area.  TDK Technologies provides information technology based e-Commerce and business process and system solutions for businesses through either staff augmentation or outsourced solution delivery.  For more information about TDK Technologies - visit www.tdktech.com. TDK can be reached at (636) 778-1404 or info@tdktech.com (link sends e-mail).

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