The Power of Prediction: Predictive Analytics, Workplace Complements, and Business Performance
42 Pages Posted: 23 May 2021
Date Written: April 30, 2021
Anecdotes abound suggesting that the use of predictive analytics boosts firm performance. However, large-scale representative data on this phenomenon have been lacking. Working with the Census Bureau, we surveyed over 30,000 American manufacturing establishments on their use of predictive analytics and detailed workplace characteristics. We find that productivity is significantly higher among plants that use predictive analytics—up to $918,000 higher sales compared to similar competitors. Furthermore, both instrumental variables estimates and timing of gains suggest a causal relationship. However, we find that the productivity pay-off only occurs when predictive analytics are combined with at least one of three workplace complements: significant accumulation of IT capital, educated workers, or workplaces designed for high flow-efficiency production. Our findings support claims that predictive analytics can substantially boost performance, while also explaining why some firms see no benefits at all.
Keywords: digitization, data, predictive analytics, productivity, complementarities
JEL Classification: M2, L2, O32, O33, D2
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