Data Analytics: Which one is correct for me – Descriptive, Predictive, or Prescriptive?


Data analytics (a.k.a. business intelligence) is no more new in this era. Each organization doing this or started doing this. Also more or less everybody have heard about types of data analytics – descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive; but always unsure which one is most suitable. In some cases we wish to start with predictive analytics itself. Let’s see if we can do it? First, to start with let’s understand exact meaning of descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics.

Descriptive analytics – what has happened in the past?
Descriptive analytics is to understand what has happened in the past and what is happening now. So this is the retrospective analysis providing insights on the current data.

Predictive analytics – what is probably going to happen?
Predictive analytics provides actionable insights. It provides what is likely to happen usually along with probability and why it’s likely to happen. So basically predictive analytics is giving answers along with recommendations to future looking questions.

Prescriptive analytics – now what?
We will call prescriptive analytics as very advanced predictive analytics. This answers what will happen, when it will happen, and why it will happen along with the actionable insights to take maximum advantage of the predictions. Prescriptive analytics is still very new to world.

Let’s have a look at the simple example to understand these types. James (who is our fictitious character) loves online shopping. In this simple day to day example, online shopping company can have different analytics like mentioned below


So now since we have understood the different types of data analytics, let’s answer the question. Well, answer is very simple. Everybody needs to do all types of analytics. One cannot skip any type and jump directly to next. As above example clearly shows, output of each analytics level serves as input to other. The only difference is what current level or type of analytics is established and how to go ahead. Obviously, this has to be done systematically to take maximum advantage of analytics. And to achieve this one has to implement proper tool. Real Time Analytics Platform (RTAP) provides the easiest and efficient platform to everyone with the utmost flexibility to get business insights helping you to take well informed decisions.