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Issue of November 2006 
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From now to right now

When it comes to a book on business, what makes for a good read is the author substantiating what he says with instances from real life. Going by this rule of thumb, Vivek Ranadivé’s 2006 title The Power To Predict: How Real-Time Businesses Anticipate Customer Needs, Create Opportunities and Beat the Competition is a good read.

If there is one thing that is constant throughout the book, it is Ranadive’s affirmation that businesses have entered an age where they can not only collect relevant information in real-time, but also interpolate these facts and datums to predict what will happen in the future.

Ranadive’s thesis is that the concept of predictive business will change the way businesses are managed. He connects businesses to everyday happenings. Instead of asking the reader questions like ‘So, do you want your balance sheet to look good and display the company’s vision statement?,’ Ranadive asks the reader if he wants to run the business like a champion sports team or simply a casual softball team.

He goes into the concept in detail explaining what it is and how it has helped organisations around the world. Through it, a business can avoid potential problems in its supply-demand chain. Another concept that he touches upon is ‘eager network’ where a company anticipates what’s going to happen in the long run, which helps it deliver goods and services to its customers on time.

Title : The Power to Predict: How Real-Time Businesses Anticipate Customer Needs, Create Opportunities and Beat the Competition
Author : Vivek Ranadivé
Publisher : Tata McGraw-Hill
Pages : 239
Price : Rs 299

He writes that real-time information does not equate to real-time business. He explains that the latter is about managing assets and activities so that the organisation can quickly respond to change. This can happen with the help of real-time information

He writes that real-time information does not equate to real-time business. He explains that the latter is about managing assets and activities so that the organisation can quickly respond to change. This can happen with the help of real-time information.

Ranadive stresses on the fact that it is not just real-time information that will help businesses. He talks of the ability to combine real-time information with historical data such as customer profiles and then make use of both.

There are numerous case studies in this 239-page book. They start right from Chapter 1 where he mentions how Pirelli, Adidas-Solomon and Southwest Airlines benefitted from the concept of real-time business. One of the more interesting case studies is where he writes about Harrah’s Casinos, a casino chain that stores analytical data about customer behaviour, and attempts to keep its clientèle in a positive frame of mind by serving up special offers such as free dining at a restaurant or free tickets to a show of their choice. This is generally done when a customer has a bad evening at the gambling tables. The author tries to prove his point by giving facts that can’t be ignored.

To reinforce his views about the future of the predictive business, Ranadive also mentions the various sectors of the industry that can benefit from this concept namely financial services, transportation and logistics, retail, energy and even warfare.

Towards the end, he delves upon the things that organisations need to do if they want to be real-time businesses. He mentions best practices and talks of Tibco of which he is the CEO. Incidentally, the text related to Tibco is short. It would have been nice to know more about the author’s own company and how real-time business works there.

All said, the book is well written with plenty of examples and case studies to support what the author is saying. Diagrams are aplenty, they quickly show what the past, present and future of a business could be.

—Rishiraj Verma

 
     
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