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How do You Determine Your Next Best Action?

Understanding Predictive vs. Prescriptive Analytics

analytics to determine next best action

How can two words sound so alike and denote such different concepts? As it turns out, “Predictive” and “Prescriptive” analytics really aren’t so different—but understanding what each of them brings to your business will be central to determining your “Next Best Action.” How? Let’s start with a few definitions:

Defining Predictive Analytics

The first definition is simple. Analytics—you already know plenty about—is systemically analyzing data and statistics in order to find meaningful trends. Usually the word “analytics” deals primarily with the past, however. With predictive analytics, the goal isn’t just collecting and synthesizing the data to understand the past. Instead, you’ll want to align the data to better understand the market and have a feel for where your business is heading. This is true for all aspects of your company, from stakeholders to the marketplace itself.

The future, of course, is always changing thanks to what happens in the present. The same is true of Predictive Analytics.

Defining Prescriptive Analytics

Add the word “prescriptive” to the mix, however, and you’ve got a different concept entirely.

Where predictive analytics is like taking traditional analytics and applying it elsewhere on a 4D plane, prescriptive analytics is all about action. Simply put, your analytics should be able to point you to a “Next Best Action.” Without that, you’re left with a pile of data … and nothing to do about it.

Putting the Two Together

Both of these concepts are extremely important on an individual basis. If your analytics aren’t flexible enough to see past the present in any capacity—murky though the future may be—then they’re already stale.

Combine the two, however, and you create a synergistic effect in which the quality of your analytics will build upon itself. Discovering more about where the future may be headed and using that data to sort out the Next Best Action are exactly the steps needed to create a responsible, educated guess and to form business strategy. One without the other is powerful; together, they’re a dynamic force for change within your sector.

Consider Digital Foresight®, the business “Intelligence-as-a-Service” offered by NIIT Technologies. Built to accomplish a number of things including identifying internal threads, M&A risk and more, Digital Foresight® helps you make sense of all of the systems—giving form to all of the formless data at your company. That’s how synergy with analytics looks when you’ve got a handle on your information.

Turning Concepts into Actionable Steps

Even armed with knowledge about Digital Foresight® and the definitions of predictive and prescriptive analytics, what are you to make of all this knowledge? Let’s look at some key steps:

  • Understand your data. You have to make sense of all the data you have at your disposal, which is where a service like Digital Foresight® comes in. It helps to create your own data “search engine.”
  • Understand your context. Business and contextual understanding is central to taking the next step. Without it, you’ve only got isolated data.
  • Optimize. Remember that it’s a journey. Keep your data agile, and continually optimize your processes so you always know where you’re headed.
  • Take the best action with the best knowledge available. Thusly informed by the data at your fingertips, you’ll be better able to prescribe the next move for your company and within your market.

The old saying is true — knowledge is power. But in today’s technological environment, it’s not just data that makes you smarter. It’s how you treat that data … and ultimately, how you use it.


Learn how NIIT Technologies' Digital Foresight® solution can provide you with actionable insights and recommend courses of action to give your business a competitive edge.

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