Data analysis has definitely become a defining characteristic of the modern era. There are few companies who don't see considerable potential in big data. Indeed, most want to get the best value out of it. Predictive Analytics is focused on the analysis of data directed to predicting future trends or the probabilty of particular events taking place. This is especially important in dealing with risk reduction and analysis.
Predictive analysis has traditionally been the tool of mathematicians and statisticians because it is technically heavy with mathematical techniques. However, technology helps with that and recent research shows that predictive analytics is moving into the mainstream of analysis carried out by business, often by those without intensive mathematical capabilities.
Last December, TDWI (The Data Warehousing Institute) released a report outlining the use of predictive analytics. It's available here. In its introduction, the report states its premise:
"Although it has been around for decades, predictive analytics is a technology whose time has finally come. A variety of market forces have joined to make this possible, including an increase in computing power, a better understanding of the value of the technology, the rise of certain economic forces, and the advent of big data. Companies are looking to use the technology to predict trends and understand behavior for better business performance."
The report goes on to point out the ways in which business is making use of predictive analytics. A valuable reference document for any business looking to capitalize on the big data trend.