Saturday, February 2, 2013

Add Attributes to Predict Football...Or Anything

Nate Silver and Predictions
Nate Silver is the guru when it comes to predictions.  If you don’t know him, he is famous or infamous for predicting the elections, sports games, and financials with his impressive statistical models. 

The Superbowl is pending, and here in Boston, we may not have our team competing, but that doesn’t stop us from watching and making predictions about who is going to take home the trophy.  And it certainly hasn’t stopped Nate Silver from predicting that the 49ers seem to have the odds in their favor.

Applying Attributes to Make Predictions
How does Nate Silver add attributes in order to predict that the 49ers are going to seal the deal? He builds models that scour historic data, behavioral data, any data that he can get his hands on. His algorithms are some, if not the best.  But, just like in his book, The Signal and The Noise, all predictions aren’t always right, but with the right data you risk being right more of the time. 

Prediction and Sales
Of course, I was going to bring this back to Sales.  Now all sales people may not be the Nate Silver’s of the world, but they certainly do try. Because that’s their job.  Sales is trying to add attributes to opportunities in order to predict which deals are worth focusing on.  But instead of building statistical models, every day they are using, both technology and also existing relationships to narrow in on which deals to pursue and prioritize.  Dare I say that sales are the bookies of the business world.  They must place their best bets in order to yield the most profitable results. 

Use Attributes to Change Information to Knowledge
In The Signal and the Noise, Silver states: “We think we want information when we really want knowledge.”  Information is  raw data before it is filtered and processed to best suit the sales reps’ needs. It is the relevant knowledge that IBM just had a security breech that might drive a sales rep to reach out based on the security products they sell. Timing is everything, as we all know.  These temporal attributes quantify information into knowledge, which dictates, which “bets” sales reps are going to go after.

We may not know for sure who is going to win the Superbowl, but by adding attributes we most certainly have a more realistic prediction to rest on our laurels.

And for our beloved Pats – You will gettem’ Next year!

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