Why Websites Still Can’t Predict Exactly What You Want

From Harvard Business Review- It should be a golden age for personalization online, and the predictive algorithms that drive it.Data scientists, supported by the stunning growth in the gathering and processing of so-called big data, can extract patterns from massive stores of browsing and sales data in order to predict our likes and dislikes and tailor marketing experiences to us. The predictive algorithms are often built to impress, designed over years by teams of PhDs from top universities. In 2006, Netflix tapped these brainiacs by offering a million dollars to anyone who improved its home-grown algorithm to predict movie ratings. It took three years before a combined team of seven researchers reached the target of ten-percent prediction improvement.The winning entry was not one algorithm but an ensemble of over one hundred algorithms, bearing exotic names such as restricted Boltzmann machines, and singular value decomposition. Big data flexed its muscles.

Image courtesy of hbr.org

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