Your Customer’s World: Using Predictive Analytics to Assess Business Risk

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[This post originally appeared on Hoover’s Bizmology blog on May 8, 2014.]

Congratulations! Your lumber business just scored a large contract to supply materials to an expanding hardware store chain in California. You’re looking at ramping up production and hiring a score of new employees. But how can you be sure that your new star customer will remain on its current growth trajectory?

Businesses are faced with similar decision-making challenges on a daily basis. Without the proper data tools, it is difficult to see beyond the immediate outlook and predict when a material-change event will occur. Fortunately, new analytical tools are arriving on the market to help companies more accurately assess the future risk or potential of a business partner.

For instance, D&B’s patent-pending new analytic capability, Material Change, enables customers to better identify whether a business is poised for expansion or headed for decline, reaching out 12 months, 18 months, and on into the future. This new tool is the most recent in D&B’s family of predictive analytic tools. The company has traditionally provided market-leading business scores, credit scores, and ratings. The predictive analytic tools build on the traditional scores and can help transform data into intelligence that also helps manage risk and identifies new opportunities. Predictive tools already available from D&B include Viability Rating, Total Loss Predictor, and Delinquency Predictor.

Material Change builds on D&B’s existing predictive analytic capabilities by adding anticipatory signals, such as a company’s payment behavior and financial obligations, to provide a long-range view of the firm’s risk profile. Where D&B’s existing tools allow businesses to move forward on deals with prospects, suppliers, and customers, Material Change gives customers the confidence to make future plans based on the predicted stability of those commercial relationships.

Advanced analytics like Material Change are designed to help customers anticipate a partner’s behavior and insulate against surprise developments.

For the lumber business looking at expansion, the insecurity of relying on a large contract relationship is mitigated and confident business decisions can be made. Taking on 20 new employees and adding a new production line won’t cause unnecessary worry that those operations may have to be shuttered a year or two down the line.

Predictive analytic tools on the market are also helping companies target key prospects, identify most valuable customers, and leverage successful products and marketing campaigns, according to EMC Corp.’s Bill Schmarzo. Modeling and forecasting tools allow businesses to answer futuristic questions such as: “Who will be my top customer next year?” and “What new product will be the top seller?”

Predictive analytics allow businesses to recognize patterns and correlations between customer behavior, store traffic, promotional activities, geography, and other elements that drive risk or profitability. Examples of successful data crunching initiatives range from Netflix’s predicted success of blockbuster TV show House of Cards to the Carilion Clinic’s identification of critical-risk heart patients.

D&B is currently testing the Material Change predictors to determine how the capability can best be ingested and used by customers.

Posted in AllianceNetwork, Credit & Risk, Solution Partners, Supply Chain Management by Anne Law

Anne Law has been a member of the D&B editorial department for more than a decade, providing content for the Hoover's and First Research products. She currently covers the health care and insurance industries for First Research. 

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