A pattern is a “consistent and recurring characteristic or trait that helps in the identification of a phenomenon or problem, and serves as an indicator or model for predicting its future behaviour”. An effective pattern detection and management capability has significant importance in several areas.
Pattern Based Strategy
Pattern Detection Use Cases
- Early detection of natural disaster patterns – creation of earthquake probability maps has become a commercial business in the last two decades. Customers are not only governments but also companies using the maps for corporate and industrial site selection. In these maps a number of patterns are combined: historical (frequency and magnitude of previous quakes), geographical (plate tectonics and movements) and social dimensions (number of inhabitants, demographics etc.)
- Diagnostic medicine – using pattern recognition techniques in medical imaging (and other predictive diagnostics)
- Command and Control Functions for Complex Systems – used to monitor the behaviour of complex systems (such as nuclear plants, power networks, ships, submarines), analysing the input received from different sensors and providing decision support functions to the operator (or potentially executing the actions automatically) with a goal of ensuring that the complex system is maintained in a desired /stable state. In the design of Command and Control Systems, two models should be considered:
- Frequently, the situation/problem identified by a pattern is a well known/repetitive problem and there is a predefined procedure to manage the situation, either automatically or manually through an operator
- There are other situations where a predefined procedure is not available (perhaps the evolution of the system cannot be predicted). In these circumstances, operator intervention is needed and the Command and Control System should help by providing all the information available about potential solutions/actions, estimations about the evolution of the system, historical analysis, precedents, etc.
It is critical for Command and Control systems to be as “intelligent” as possible, capable of reacting to multiple scenarios whether previously encountered or not. To achieve this, several techniques are used including simulations and neural network based design.
- Context Aware Computing – contextual information often underpins the key events which define the pattern(s). This is closely liked to Complex Event Processing which can be seen as a technology building block of Pattern Based Strategy and Context Aware Computing solutions (and indeed is also a potential input source for Command and Control Systems operating under Pattern Based Strategy).
In a commercial context, the early detection of patterns highlighting opportunities, collapsing demand, employee dissatisfaction or negative public image can provide companies with a sustainable competitive advantage and can help them to capitalise on opportunities that exist under varying market conditions.
Pattern Detection and Management Examples
Some examples of the application of pattern management in business environments include:
- Fraud/Crime detection – For example, monitoring for unusual credit/debit card transactions, or purchasing patterns outside normal parameters for an individual customer
- Recommendation engines in e-commerce sites. Creating patterns from previous user navigations in such a way that can identify affinity between different users and so, propose items acquired by similar users)
- Intelligent content providers that use patterns to identify and classify content coming from different sources that match subscribers’ areas of interest.
Analysing trends, patterns and external developments has always been a part of organisational business intelligence. The baker in Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” (1776) wanted insight into predicted next day sales, ‘event intelligence’ and likely impact on demand.
Pattern Seeking and Predictive Business Intelligence
In the current business environment, reasons to place predictive business intelligence and pattern seeking on the agenda of the CxO include:
- Customers are connected with and active on a lot of social networks on which they discuss the performance and image of organisations as well as potential purchases
- Determining and analysing patterns relating to how organisations are perceived in these networks uncovers corporate image, customer sentiment and may be used to forecast future sales and highlight opportunities and commercial threats
- New and innovative IT solutions make it possible to concurrently data mine more sources rapidly and to find and analyse patterns inherent within the data. Availability of increasing numbers of public data sets also increases analytics potential and patterns can be hypothesised and tested across a rich data landscape
- Following more deliberate and intended strategy based on detected patterns fosters stability and confidence in an organisation. If patterns can be detected quickly and the company reacts with agility, there are opportunities to drive markets through innovation, acquisition and new products.
Fast and accurate pattern detection is also central to a dynamic risk management strategy (which would have obvious relevance in natural disasters, diagnostic medicine and Command and Control Systems as discussed above).