From tracking this year's flu epidemic via social media, to Google's Instant searches, Amazon's recommendations and predictive keyboards on smartphones, businesses everywhere are embracing predictive analytics.

In the broadest sense, the goal of computer technology has always been to enable better decision-making. And yet, writing about predictive analytics was difficult, chiefly because my interview subjects and I first had to agree on a definition of predictive analytics in the context of their businesses or applications suites.

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