Superheroes and Predictive Analytics

Captain America The Winter Soldier
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is also a lesson in predictive analytics.

(Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment)

This past weekend, my wife and I were watching my favorite superhero movie (again) “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” One of the most intriguing scenes in the film was when Steve Rogers/Captain America (played by Chris Evans) interrogated S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernandez) about the terrorist group Hydra’s plan with Project: Insight. Sitwell revealed that Hydra developed the “Zola algorithm,” a formula that predicts can be a threat to Hydra’s reign by using historical data to determine future activity.

My wife said, “Only in a superhero movie.” I responded, “No, it’s predictive analytics.”

What Is Predictive Analytics?

In addition to being a superhero movie with a suspenseful plot, “Captain America: The Winter Solider” introduced the concept of predictive analytics to the masses. Predictive analytics is a data-mining practice that uses a variety of statistical techniques to analyze current and historical facts to make predictions about future or otherwise unknown events. The analytic models capture relationships among the data to assess risk or potential associated with the conditions, guiding decision making or transactions.

While it sounds like something out of science fiction, predictive analytics is a standard tool used in many fields, such as insurance, healthcare, actuarial science and retail. The common use of predictive analytics is in credit scoring, where financial companies use scoring models to process a customer’s credit history, payment history and other personal data to rank individuals by their likelihood to make future payments.

The Future of Marketing?

Predictive analytics can help uncover new business opportunities that can increase marketing campaign effectiveness, maximize profitability and minimize customer churn.

(Image courtesy of STAT Labs)

Dmitri Williams, the founder of social analytics company Ninja Metrics, estimates that just five to 10 percent of social media users are responsible for 60 to 80 percent of influence (Wallace, para. 5). Predictive analytics software helps provide greater insight by highlighting the early indicators of interest and purchase behavior. It looks at keywords used when social media users post, and the sites they visit when they talk about products.

By using predictive analytics, marketers can gain greater insight by highlighting the early indicators of interest and purchase behavior. So with a little creativity, marketers use predictive analytics with emerging media to become a superhero of epic, digital proportions.


Wallace, L. (n.d.) “Impact of predictive analytics on advocacy-based social media marketing.” Software Advice. Retrieved February 28, 2016, from



One thought on “Superheroes and Predictive Analytics

  1. You make a great point when you said, “predictive analytics software helps provide greater insight by highlighting the early indicators of interest and purchase behavior.” This is important because every day marketers are getting more and more information about what their customers are doing. Marketers are out collecting data from digital marketing, social media, call centers, mobile apps, and other emerging digital platforms, but how does one take that data and make it actionable? How does a marketer use the information on what your customers have done in the past to gauge what they may do in the future? The answer to these questions is simple: you use statistics to create predictive analytics.

    These statistics let you determine the relationship between certain data points. Without this, a marketer is making educated guesses at best. According to Wareham, “Statistics works like a lever, allowing you to work with much larger data sets than you normally could manage the same way a lever allows you to lift much heavier loads than you, as a mere mortal, would normally be able.” Is predictive analytics only for the large companies? Is there a way smaller, local companies can leverage the data?


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