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Real-world Applications and Use Cases

Machine Learning for business: Use cases and 5 steps to success

Or Jacobi
Or Jacobi

Or is a software engineer at Aporia and an avid gaming enthusiast "All I need is a cold brew and the controller in my hand, and I'm good to go."

12 min read Jun 09, 2023

What Is Machine Learning for Business? 

Machine learning is the use of artificial intelligence algorithms and statistical models to analyze data, identify patterns, and make predictions or decisions without explicit instructions. It is being applied in many business fields including marketing, finance, customer service, supply chain management, and more, to improve operational efficiency, increase revenue, and provide a better customer experience.

In this article, we’ll describe common uses of machine learning for businesses, and provide guidance on successfully implementing machine learning models in your organization.

This is part of an extensive series of guides about AI technology.

The Importance of Machine Learning in Business 

Machine learning is becoming increasingly important in the world of business, as it provides a powerful set of tools for analyzing data, making predictions, and optimizing business processes. Here are some of the key reasons why machine learning is important for businesses:

Improved decision-making 

Machine learning algorithms can analyze and interpret large amounts of data to provide insights that inform business decisions. For example, businesses can use machine learning to analyze customer data and predict customer behavior, such as which products they are likely to buy, how much they are likely to spend, and when they are likely to make a purchase. This can inform marketing campaigns and product development efforts.

Increased efficiency 

Machine learning can automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks. For example, businesses can use machine learning to automate customer service inquiries, using chatbots that can respond to customer queries in real-time. Machine learning can also be used to optimize supply chain operations by predicting demand and identifying bottlenecks in the supply chain.

Personalization 

Machine learning can analyze customer data to provide personalized recommendations and experiences. For example, machine learning algorithms can analyze customer browsing and purchase history to provide personalized product recommendations. This can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, leading to increased revenue.

Competitive advantage 

By leveraging machine learning to improve products and services, reduce costs, and increase efficiency, businesses can gain a competitive advantage. For example, businesses can use machine learning to identify trends and opportunities in the market, leading to new business models and revenue streams.

Predictive maintenance 

Machine learning can be used to monitor equipment and detect potential problems before they occur. For example, machine learning algorithms can analyze data from sensors and other sources to predict when equipment is likely to fail, ensuring businesses can take action before a breakdown occurs.

Common Uses for Machine Learning Applications in Business  

Customer Recommendation Engines

A customer recommendation engine analyzes customer data to provide personalized recommendations for products or services. It can use data such as customer browsing and purchase history and data from other customers who have made similar purchases to identify patterns and relationships between different products. 

Using this analysis, the engine makes predictions about which products a customer is likely to be interested in. The recommendations are usually presented to the customer in real-time, often as a list of suggested products or services on a website or mobile app. For example, an e-commerce website might display a list of related products based on a customer’s recent purchase or browsing history. The goal is to increase customer engagement, loyalty, and sales.

Recommendation engines are widely used in a variety of industries, such as eCommerce, media, and entertainment. They can be used to suggest products, movies, TV shows, music, and more. By providing personalized recommendations, businesses can increase customer satisfaction and retention, leading to increased revenue and profits.

Learn more in our detailed guide to recommender systems

Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)

Customer lifetime value is a metric that estimates the total value that a customer is likely to bring to a business throughout their entire relationship. CLV is calculated by estimating the revenue a customer will generate over their lifetime, minus the costs associated with acquiring and servicing that customer.

CLV can be calculated using a variety of methods, including simple formulas and more complex statistical models. The specific method used will depend on the nature of the business and the available data.

Machine learning can be used to calculate customer lifetime value by analyzing historical customer data and predicting future customer behavior. There are several machine learning techniques that businesses can use to calculate CLV, including regression analysis, customer segmentation, collaborative filtering, and neural network-based pattern recognition.

Customer Churn Modeling

Customer churn modeling involves using machine learning to predict which customers are likely to stop doing business with a company. The term “churn” refers to customers who have stopped doing business with a company, either by canceling a subscription, ending a contract, or no longer making purchases.

A customer churn modeling algorithm uses data such as customer demographics, transaction history, usage patterns, and other variables to identify which customers are most likely to churn. By analyzing these data points, the algorithm can identify patterns and trends that may indicate that a customer is at risk of churning.

The algorithm usually provides a score or probability that indicates how likely a given customer is to churn. Businesses can use these insights to take action to retain those customers who are at the highest risk. For example, businesses may offer special discounts, promotions, or incentives to retain those customers. Customer churn modeling is widely used in a variety of industries, such as telecommunications, software, and eCommerce. 

Dynamic Pricing Tactics

Dynamic pricing involves using machine learning to adjust prices in real-time based on supply and demand. The goal is to optimize prices to maximize revenue and profits. A dynamic pricing algorithm typically uses data such as customer behavior, competitor prices, and market trends to determine the optimal price for a given product or service. By analyzing this data, the algorithm can adjust prices up or down in real-time to reflect changes in supply and demand.

Dynamic pricing tactics are widely used in a variety of industries, such as eCommerce, travel, and entertainment. For example, online retailers may use dynamic pricing to adjust prices on products based on inventory levels and demand. Airlines and hotels may use dynamic pricing to adjust prices based on factors such as seasonality, demand, and weather conditions.

Surge pricing is a type of dynamic pricing that is commonly used by ride-sharing companies, food delivery services, airlines, and other on-demand services. Surge pricing involves increasing prices during periods of high demand, such as rush hour or during peak events. The goal of surge pricing is to incentivize drivers or delivery personnel to work during these high-demand periods while also managing supply and demand.

By adjusting prices in real-time based on market conditions, businesses can increase revenue and profits, reduce excess inventory, and prevent stockouts. However, there are also potential drawbacks to dynamic pricing tactics. Customers may perceive this tactic as unfair if they feel that prices are being manipulated. It can also lead to price wars among competitors, eroding profit margins. 

Credit Risk Modeling

Credit risk modeling involves using machine learning to predict the likelihood of default on a loan or another credit product. The goal is to assess the creditworthiness of a borrower and determine the level of risk associated with extending credit to that borrower. Credit risk modeling is widely used in the financial industry, such as in banks and credit card companies. 

A credit risk modeling algorithm typically uses data such as credit history, income, employment history, and other variables to identify patterns and trends that may indicate a borrower is at risk of default. By analyzing these data points, the algorithm can assign a credit risk score or probability that indicates the likelihood of default.

The output of a credit risk modeling algorithm is used by lenders to make more informed decisions about lending. For example, lenders may use the credit risk score to determine the interest rate and credit limit for a borrower or to decide whether to approve or deny a loan application. 

US regulations require banks and financial institutions to provide explanations when someone is denied a credit line. Explainable AI is important in credit risk systems because it ensures transparency and accountability in lending decisions. By providing an explanation for why a credit application was denied, borrowers can better understand the decision-making process and have the opportunity to correct any errors or misunderstandings.

Learn more in our detailed guides to:

  • Credit risk modeling (coming soon)
  • Dynamic pricing models (coming soon)

Security Improvements

Machine learning algorithms can help businesses to identify and prevent cyber threats, reduce the risk of data breaches and other security incidents, and improve fraud detection and prevention. By leveraging machine learning algorithms, businesses can improve their overall security posture and protect sensitive data and assets from cyber threats.

For example, a machine learning algorithm can be used to analyze network traffic and user behavior to detect anomalous activity that may indicate a cyber attack. The algorithm can learn to distinguish between normal and abnormal network traffic and identify patterns that may indicate a security threat.

In addition, machine learning can be used to improve fraud detection and prevention. By analyzing transaction data and user behavior, machine learning algorithms can identify suspicious activity that may indicate fraud. This can help prevent fraudulent activity and reduce the risk of financial losses.

Implementing ML in Business: 5 Steps to Success

1. Establish a Vision

This step involves defining the overall goals and objectives of implementing machine learning in the business. This includes identifying business problems that can be solved using machine learning, such as improving customer experience, reducing costs, or increasing revenue. The vision should be aligned with the overall business strategy and objectives, and should have a clear definition of success.

2. Define Data Requirements

Machine learning models require large amounts of data to be effective. It is important to identify the data requirements, including the type and volume of data needed, as well as the data sources. This may involve collecting and cleaning data from various sources, such as transaction data, customer data, or product data. 

3. Establish Roles and Responsibilities

Implementing machine learning involves many different roles and responsibilities, including data scientists, IT professionals, and business analysts. It is important to define the roles and responsibilities of each team member, as well as their specific goals and objectives. This may involve creating a cross-functional team that includes members from various departments and functions.

4. Set up a Change Management Process

Implementing machine learning requires changes to existing processes and systems. It is important to have a change management process in place to ensure that the changes are implemented smoothly and efficiently. This includes identifying potential risks and challenges, defining mitigation strategies, and establishing a timeline for implementation. 

5. Establish Monitoring and Revalidation

Machine learning models are not static and require ongoing monitoring and revalidation. It is important to establish a process for monitoring the performance of the model, identifying areas for improvement, and revalidating the model periodically to ensure that it remains accurate and effective. This may involve creating a dashboard to monitor key performance indicators and establishing a process for making adjustments and improvements as needed.

Machine Learning for Business with Aporia

When a machine learning model starts interacting with the real world, making real predictions for real people and businesses, there are various production issues that can send your model spiraling out of control. 

Aporia’s ML observability platform is the ideal partner for Data Scientists and ML engineers to visualize, monitor, explain, and improve ML models in production in minutes. Our platform supports any use case and fits naturally into your existing ML stack alongside your favorite ML tools and frameworks. We empower organizations with key features and tools to ensure high model performance: 

Production Visibility

  • Single pane of glass visibility into all production models. Custom dashboards that can be understood and accessed by all relevant stakeholders.
  • Track model performance and health in one place. 
  • A centralized hub for all your models in production.
  • Custom metrics and widgets to ensure you’re getting the insights that matter to you.

ML Monitoring

  • Start monitoring in minutes.
  • Instant alerts and advanced workflows trigger. 
  • Custom monitors to detect data drift, model degradation, performance, etc.
  • Track relevant custom metrics to ensure your model is drift-free and performance is driving value. 
  • Choose from our automated monitors or get hands-on with our code-based monitor options. 

Explainable AI

  • Get human readable insight into your model predictions. 
  • Simulate ‘What if?’ situations. Play with different features and find how they impact predictions.
  • Gain valuable insights to optimize model performance.
  • Communicate predictions to relevant stakeholders and customers.

Root Cause Investigation

  • Slice and dice model performance, data segments, data stats, or distribution.
  • Identify and debug issues.
  • Explore and understand connections in your data.

See Additional Guides on Key AI Technology Topics

Together with our content partners, we have authored in-depth guides on several other topics that can also be useful as you explore the world of AI technology.

Machine Learning Engineer technology

Authored by Run.AI

MLOps

Authored by Run.AI

Explainable AI

Authored by Aporia


To get a hands-on feel for our ML observability platform, we recommend:

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