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Predictive technology refers to the techniques and tools used to model future behavior and preferences among consumers and other groups. Many applications for predictive technology exist, from improving the efficiency of call center workplaces, to identifying possible terrorist threats. The most common use for it is in marketing, like that done by retailers. In all cases, predictive technology looks for patterns in past behavior and results in order to predict future events.
The desire or need to predict what will happen next is one that people are seeing as increasingly valuable. Because of this, predictive technology will probably become more commonplace as time goes on. It is often used in forecasting weather patterns, price movements in stock markets, traffic patterns, and much else. Marketing, however, is likely its most profitable use.
Many retailers collect information about which consumers are buying what products, in an effort to establish patterns. These patterns are used to tailor advertising campaigns later on. One of the ways we see this being done is when we purchase products online. Often, the web site will provide us with a list of items bought by customers with interests similar to ours. This is done automatically, with predictive technology.
The way that such technologies are used in marketing is often called data mining. In this case, it is not data as such that is being mined, but rather usable patterns present in data. Not only are patterns and their changes observed in this way, but previously unknown facts can also come to light through these techniques. Data mining has interesting potential applications, including possibly being used to look for patterns in financial transactions and international travel in order to predict and prevent terrorist activity.
Another form of predictive technology is the predictive dialer, often used in call centers to maximize efficiency. These are computerized systems that dial many numbers as part of an advertising or political campaign intended to reach large numbers of people as efficiently as possible. Predictive dialers not only monitor the way the calls are answered, but also look for patterns. The goal of this type of technology is to have all available agents taking as many calls as possible, with a minimum of downtime, as well as avoiding call abandonment, where someone answered the call, but no agent was available. Predictive dialers work best for cold-calling leads, and filtering them to a large number of phone agents.