Businesses are using correlational insights and big data analysis to help them be successful.  Amazon was one of the pioneers.  Amazon’s recommendation system is based on big data and it’s based on correlations.  The idea that if two people bought ten or 15 of the same books, then it is very likely that they will like the same books going into the future.  That’s how their accommodation system works. 

But we use it in many other contexts as well.  There's a new area called predictive maintenance where companies look at vibration patterns and other patterns admitted by machines days or hours before the breakdown before a part falls apart.  And that gives us the opportunity to go out and change the part that is likely to fail relatively soon rather then having a road accident or a failure on the roadside where then one needs to come up and tow the car away. 

So predictive maintenance helps companies like FedEx and UPS with large fleets of delivery vans to change parts before they break.  They help airline companies to do predictive maintenance on jet engines so that the jet engine doesn’t fail in mid-fight because parts are predictably probabilistically exchanged before they fail.  In many different instances we see that companies are harnessing the power of big data or correlations in order to advance their business successes. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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