How to Use Machine Learning in Business? 3 Steps

Business Analytics
Knowledge Center

Aniket Deolikar
Consultant, India

How to Use Machine Learning in Business? 3 Steps

When you're trying to analyze big sets of data, you might wonder how the new analytical and automation tools such as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning might help. Which kind of problems can be solved by machine learning? To decide that you should think about the problem at hand and the feasibility of the available data and your expectations from that data regarding the problem.

Machine learning is a computer learning process in which a set of various statistical methods along with programming are used to find patterns of predictability in a data set. Machine learning is a major application of artificial intelligence (which is a somewhat broader concept) that uses data and provides the ability to learn and improve from the previous set of data. Machine learning is great when it comes to finding how certain aspects of the data are related to the problem, but what it cannot do is access any information outside of the data which you are providing.

Here are the 3 steps to use machine learning effectively to tackle a business problem:
    Using machine learning can automate your processes but it's not always necessary as not every automated process needs machine learning.
    When the problem at hand is really simple then automation is feasible without machine learning. A simple problem means the task where there are predefined steps that are currently done by a human and can be replaced by a machine. This type of automation has been happening for a long time.
    But suppose if a problem is complex where it involves encoding the human language into a structured data set (suppose you want a machine to improve and not to make the same mistake again) then it won't be solved by the simple set of rules. These kinds of problems (complex ones) require learning from data and here begins machine learning.
    So to consider which problems should be solved by machine learning, those problems should meet the following two criteria:
    1. The problems need prediction rather than normal inference.
    2. The problems are well self-contained or do not depend much on the outside environment.
    Now that you have classified the problem as a machine learning problem and have collected the data related to it, check your intuition. Now even if it looks like it does miracles, machine learning is also just a statistical tool and instead of trusting it blindly, ask lots of questions. You will have to get comfortable with how the methods work. Once you ask enough questions and get enough answers and know how this will work out you will notice that it's not that magical.
    Just as every human makes mistakes that goes for machine learning algorithms too. There will be times when there will be mistakes because problems are complex. Some errors are the ones that you might not have anticipated. The more complex the error you find is, the better the algorithm will get.
    Now the last step is to decide what level of errors are acceptable in your problem. Is it OK to solve your problem with 90% accuracy and a 10% error margin? Or do you want a margin of error of only 5% or even 1%. Is there a certain kind of mistakes that may never be made?! You should be clear about these needs and expectations because that's what the algorithm of your (internal or third party) programmer is going to provide you. Make sure you agree on these things before you start.
Source: Anastassia Fedyk (2018), "HBR Guide to Data Analytics Basics for Managers", pp. 111-120

  Mikey Wood

Automated Data Science

But this is where automated data science closes th...

  Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Risks of Using Machine Learning in Business Products and Services

Business offerings, services and products that emp...


More on Business Analytics:
Special Interest Group

Do you have a keen interest in Business Analytics? Become our SIG Leader

Business Analytics
Knowledge Center

About 12manage | Advertising | Link to us / Cite us | Privacy | Suggestions | Terms of Service
2022 12manage - The Executive Fast Track. V15.8 - Last updated: 25-5-2022. All names of their owners.