IBM program director Marcus Hearne says there are several parallels between Marwell Wildlife's study and the corporate world. "The result of predictive analytics is being able to best apply the limited resources you have," he says. "So northern Kenya can be seen as a market itself, and within that market you have very particular segments hidden away, just like you do a zebra population."
Predictive analytics can be used to help apply limited resources as effectively as possible in any target market. "In the case of Dr. Parker and his organizations, it's conservation activists and wildlife specialist veterinarians... and in the case of a business, it's marketing resources, it's salespeople, it's budgets for travel, anything like that," Hearne says.
IBM's predictive analytics software can be also used to help survey any market, either of human customers or of zebras. "If you think of all the wildlife in north Kenya like all your potential customers, and the zebras are the ones with the best lifetime value to you, you would be applying some of the same principles to map them out and find them without having to interview every single customer," Hearne says.
And while there are lessons to be learned in the corporate world from the GrÃ©vy's zebra study, Hearne says the reverse is also true. "It's just really good to see that it goes beyond people trying to generate more revenue... and into areas of conservation," he says. "When you get into the environmental sciences, you know your technology really is capable of making a difference."