Much to my chagrin, I had to return to wintry Chicago late Wednesday night from a delightful visit to sunny and 60ish San Francisco for Predictive Analytics World, February 2010. And, like last year, I was pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of the meeting. But whereas then the conference was version one with low expectations, my fear this year was for simply a repetition of last. Not to worry: the several hundred participants were treated to a splendid show. Kudos again to conference chair Eric Siegel and producers Prediction Impact, Inc. and Rising Media Ltd.

Siegel's keynote: Eureka! Seven Innovative Applications of Predictive Analytics, set the tone that this conference would be different, focusing on applications like text mining, online adds quality, call center optimization, and reliability modeling rather than last year's risk scoring, retention and fraud detection. The business thinking driving the work is similar, however. Decide what to predict and then how to use the prediction to optimize a business process. Siegel confided that text mining and social networks would be key recurring conference themes.

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