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This article was published as a part of the Data Science Blogathon.Introduction
With tec evolution, data dependence is increasing much faster. Gone are the days when business decisions were primarily based on gut feeling or intuition. Organizations are now employing data-driven approaches all over the world. One of the most widely used data applications is ‘Predictive Analytics’. Predictive analytics is widely used for solving real-time problems, be it forecasting the weather of a place or predicting the future scope of a business.Definition of Predictive Analytics
“Predictive Analytics refers to the field that applies various quantitative methods on data to make real-time predictions.”
It provides a method roaching and solving problems using various technologies, essentially machine learning. Predictive Analytics often makes use of machine learning algorithms and techniques to build models that make predictions.
Tools needed to begin: Python programming, Numpy, Pandas, Matplolib, Seaborn, Scikit-LearnPredictive Analytics: Steps
Figure 1: The Predictive Analytics Process
(1) Problem Understanding and Definition:
This is the initial stage in the process of predictive analysis. This is a vital stage because we first need to understand what exactly the problem is to frame the solution. When a stakeholder approaches you with a certain problem, the first step would be to know the stakeholders’ requirements, the utilities available, the deliverables and finally, know how the solution looks from the business perspective.
Sometimes the requirements of the stakeholders may not be clearly defined. It becomes our responsibility to understand precisely what is to be predicted and whether the outcome solves the defined problem. The dynamics of the solution and the outcome completely change based on the problem definition.
Converting a business problem into an analytical one is the most important part of predictive analysis. Hence explicitly define what is to be predicted and how does the outcome look like.
(2) Data Collection:
This is the most time-consuming stage. Sometimes, the required data may be provided by the stakeholder, from an external database or in some cases, you may have to extract the data. It is possible that the data so collected may not be sufficient for framing the solution. You may have to collect data from many sources. Think about how much access you have to the dataset that is required.
Since the outcome of the predictive model relies entirely on the data used, it is important to gather the most relevant data that aligns with the problem requirements. Here are a few things to be kept in mind while searching for a dataset:
Format of the data
Period across which the data is collected
The attributes of the dataset
Does the dataset meet your requirements?
(3) Exploratory Data Analysis:
Once you have the dataset ready, you now may be willing to build your predictive model. But before we start, it is crucial to know the properties of your data anding the kind of data you have, the features it possesses, the target or outcome variable, and the correlation among these features all play a role in designing a suitable model. The main aim of EDA is to understand the data. This may be achieved by answering the below few questions:
What are the data types present in the dataset?
What is the dimensionality of the dataset?
What does the data distribution look like?
Is there any missing data?
Is there any prominent pattern in the data distribution?
Do you observe outliers?
How are data features correlated to each other?
Does their correlation affect the outcome?
Sometimes the data collected contains a lot of redundant data. If such data is fed as input to the model, there is a high possibility that the model makes wrong predictions. Hence it is important to perform EDA on the data to ensure that all the outliers, null values and other unnecessary elements are identified and treated. Identifying the patterns in the data makes it easier to decide the model’s parameters. EDA helps us improve the model’s accuracy even before it is built.
EDA generally has two components- numerical calculations and data visualizations. Calculating Standard Deviation, Z-score, Inter-Quartile Range, Mean, Median, Mode, and identifying the skewness in the data are some ways of understanding the dispersion of data across the dataset. Graphical representations such as heat maps, scatter plots, bar graphs, and box plots help get a wider view of the dataset.
(4) Model Building:
After applying EDA, it is finally time to build predictive models using machine learning. In the dataset, we use the predictor variables to make predictions on the target variable.
Target: The dependent variable whose values are to be predicted.
Predictors: The independent attributes in the dataset that are used to predict the value of the target variable. Once the target is identified, all other columns become the predictor variables.
Figure 2: Model Building
Here we consider the model a calculator that takes in inputs and gives out the predicted output. We may have to build a Regression or a Classification model based on the problem.
Regression algorithms such as Simple Linear Regression, Multi Linear Regression, Decision Tree Regression etc., may be used to get desired results. Such models are used when the target is a numeric feature.
Example: Predicting the house prices
While classification models are used when the target is a categorical feature, the classification problems may be a binary classification or multiclass classification.
Binary classification: The target has only two possible categories.
Multiclass classification: The target has more than two possible outcome categories.
Apart from these, unsupervised learning algo ustering and Association algorithms can also be used based on the requirement.
(5) Model Evaluation:
Once the model is built, the next stage would be to analyze the performance of the model. Evaluating the model based on different scenarios and parameters thereby contributes to deciding ‘the most effective’ model for solving the given problem. Usually, one or more metrics are used to know how good the model performs.
Different measures are used for rating the performance of machine learning models.
For regression models: Mean Squared Error (MSE), Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE), R Squared (R2 Score)
For classification models: F2 Score, Confusion Matrix, Precision, Recall, AUC-ROC
(6) Model Deployment:
Now that the model has been built, tested and evaluated, it is time to deliver it to the stakeholder. Model deployment involves placing the model into a real-world application that can be used for its intended purpose. This may be done by using the model in a software application, integrating it into a hardware device, building a framework around the model or using the model itself as a ‘data product’.Conclusion
This article taught us the primary steps of predictive analytics. One needs to be aware of these while dealing with predictive analytics problems.
Framing and understanding the problem statement
Collecting and preparing the data
Build appropriate models
Evaluate them to choose the best one
Deploy them in the required format
However, these were just an overview of the most important stages; further steps can also be performed depending on the problem.
Now that you have a basic understanding of how prediction models are designed, you can start learning the tools and concepts required to build your first prediction model.
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This time-consuming operation needs a clever and simplified approach that eliminates waste, boosts productivity, and optimizes the whole lending process.
Enter predictive dialers, a cutting-edge technology that is transforming the mortgage sector. Predictive dialers are clever technologies that automate the process of phoning prospects, allowing mortgage lenders to contact more potential clients in less time.
These powerful solutions use complex algorithms to forecast agent availability, reduce downtime, and link lenders with qualified prospects at the right moment, resulting in enhanced productivity, higher conversion rates, and higher customer happiness.
In this blog, we will look at the several benefits that predictive dialers provide to mortgage lenders and how they can change the way lending professionals work.
Predictive dialers are altering the lending landscape, allowing mortgage lenders to stay competitive in a growing competition through expedited lead generation, greater agent productivity, enhanced compliance, and individualized consumer engagements.What is a Predictive Dialer?
A predictive dialer is an outbound calling system that automatically calls from a list of phone numbers, similar to autodialer.
A predictive dialer automatically calls numbers until it makes a link, at which point it hands the call to a real person. Dialers get rid of busy signs, voicemails, numbers that don’t answer, numbers that are disconnected, and so on.
Their ability to use call data to figure out when the next call will be answered by a real person. That is, they set their auto-dialers to work at the same time operators are available. If a call center is busy and many agents are talking on the phone, the predictive dialer will slow down or stop calling until it knows that agents are almost done with their calls.The Role of Predictive Dialers in Mortgage Lenders
In the mortgage business, it’s important to be able to reach as many people as possible and to reach certain people at the right time. With a predictive dialer, it’s so easy to call anyone directly.
Chances are, every time you talk to someone, you’ll learn something new. Just put that information into the prediction dialer, and then you can post it to your Customer Relationship Management or CRM. Just add the information about the post to your account information.
Because of this, a lot of real estate brokerages select a power dialer that works well with their CRM of choice and automates all parts of making the call.The Benefits of Predictive Dialers for Mortgage Lenders 1. Simplified Lead Management
The potential of predictive dialers for mortgage lenders to streamline lead handling is one of their key benefits. Previously, lenders would waste valuable time phoning numbers and patiently awaiting potential consumers to answer their phones.
This process not only took a long time, but it also resulted in a lot of downtime for the agents. Predictive dialers address this issue by dialing numerous numbers at the same time, estimating when an agent is going to be available, and linking them to a live call.
This automation enables lenders to increase the volume of potential consumers they reach out to and engage with.2. Enhanced Agent Productivity
Predictive dialers boost agent productivity by reducing downtime and increasing conversation time. Manual dialing would result in countless unanswered calls, voicemails, or unavailable signals for agents.
These disruptions hampered their productivity and lowered their effectiveness. Predictive dialers, on the other hand, remove ineffective calls by filtering out busy signals, voicemails, and terminated numbers, guaranteeing that agents solely connect to live calls with potential lenders.
This effective call filtering solution allows agents to concentrate entirely on productive discussions, resulting in greater productivity and conversion rates.3. Enhanced Call Routing
Mortgage lenders may provide a more customized and productive customer experience by automatically directing calls to the most appropriate agent.
This tailored strategy reduces the need for call transfers or escalation, minimizing customer dissatisfaction and increasing the likelihood of a successful engagement.4. Improve Compliance and Data Security
Mortgage lenders must be concerned about industry regulations and data security. Predictive dialers can help maintain compliance standards by providing features like time-zone limits and call recording.
Time-zone limits ensure that calls are only made during specified hours, preventing any infractions or disruptions. Furthermore, call recording provides a precise record of talks, which aids in dispute settlement and compliance checks.
Predictive dialers can also be coupled with secure CRM systems for managing customer relationships, protecting critical borrower information and preserving data privacy.5. Customer Satisfaction Increased
The use of predictive dialers results in increased customer satisfaction. Mortgage lenders may provide a more reactive and personalized experience for borrowers by utilizing automation and intelligent call routing.
Customer relations are improved as a result of shorter wait times, more efficient call processing, and smoother transfers. Furthermore, predictive dialers’ data-driven insights help lenders to customize their communication tactics, giving tailored solutions and a more customer-focused approach.
Customers who are satisfied are more likely to turn into loyal clients and suggest others, leading to the lending institution’s long-term profitability.Conclusion
For mortgage lenders, predictive dialers have become known as a game-changing tool. These tools transform the way lenders work by streamlining lead management, increasing agent efficiency, optimizing call routing, assuring compliance, and improving client happiness.
Because of the competitive nature of the mortgage sector, adopting innovative solutions that may increase efficiency, maximize sales, and provide excellent client experiences is essential.
Google Analytics is a fantastic tool from the moment you arrange to have the tracking code installed and you experience the thrill or anxst of your first reports appearing showing how real people are interacting with your business.Every business now needs a Google Analytics customisation strategy
You can certainly get a lot of value from reporting and analysis using the standard setup, but to really drive results for your business, you’re better off spending some time on customisation.
recommending this post
before Smart Insights
With each passing month there are more customisation options available in Google Analytics, so I believe you really need a strategy of what to customise, particularly if there are several team members using the account. This post gives my ideas on a customisation strategy based on consulting work I have done and typical usage of Google Analytics by attendees on Econsultancy training Site Optimization with Google Analytics – the length of the post shows that there are lots of customisation options available.
I’ve published it as the pre-read for marketers attending the training course and hope it’s useful for others who pass this way. I plan to update it as the need for new customisations appear.
If you’re on my next course, “Hi and I look forward to meeting”. Don’t worry if you don’t have time to go through all the links(!), it’s just intended to give you a flavour of some of the main concepts we cover so you can ‘hit the ground running’. It will also provide a reference after the course.
We’ll cover each of these concepts on the course, but we spend most time on using analysis of reports to get better results rather than configuration and setup – that’s what I find interests people most!Customisation options for Google Analytics
From several years experience of using GA, I recommend reviewing these six types of setup or configuration for Google Analytics to customise the reports you view. Some may need some tech assistance, but most can be completed by any business user, if you know where to look!
A recently published companion to this post is Brian Clifton’s Book Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics which explains how to implement the setup in more detail than possible here
So, from easiest to hardest, the six customisation options are:
1. Working with reports in a smarter way
3. Creating custom reports and dashboards within Google Analytics
4. Setting up marketing campaign tracking
5. Modifying profile setup within “Google Analytics Settings”
6. Customisations that require server modificationsResources for finding out more about Google Analytics customisation
Most Google Analytics users will have used the Google Analytics Help System which is functional, but I find that many don’t know about the excellent “Google Conversion University” which as the name suggests is a much better way to learn.
The Google Conversion University is designed to help analytics specialists take the Google Analytics Individual Qualification. I worked my way through the GAIQ back in September 2009 and I can recommend it if analytics is a big part of what you do. But even if they’re not, I can recommend some of these lessons as a great way to learn about Google Analytics. I’ve highlighted the most useful ones here. Here’s an example:
I’ve also linked to relevant posts within Avinash Kaushik’s Occam’s Razor blog. Avinash is analytics evangelist for Google and thinks deeply about how GA can be best applied to benefit businesses. As well as his recommendations, suggestions of other users about customisations make this an excellent place to learn.
There will naturally be future updates as Google enhances it’s Analytics services. To help here, I’ve created a Google Analytics update wiki where I add a short note on the latest, most significant, changes as they happen.1. Working with reports in a smarter way
The most basic customisation you can do is to change the way default reports are displayed. For example, changing or comparing time periods or variables or the number of results displayed. Most readers will be doing this already because the system is intuitive and you have to use it for basic analysis.
But it’s worth checking out this lesson on Interface Navigation in the Conversion University since it also shows how to compare different metrics to review correlation and how to do a quick segmentation within a report to drill down to the detail.
There are also some newer features in Google Analytics to help with report analysis which aren’t included yet in the Conversion University, so here’s the low-down on these:Google Analytics Intelligence
What is it?
The Intelligence feature of Google Analytics currently gives you automated or custom alerts of changes in visitors from different sources like an individual country, search engine or another site.Annotations?
Ideal for overlaying a reminder of the start of new marketing activities to jog your memory or to share with colleagues. Annotations are overlaid on the graph on each report. For instance, you can show new campaigns, new content or new publicity and relate it to changes in traffic or conversion.
Using Advanced Segments is essential if you want to find how different groups of visitors behave and then work out how well your content, messaging, offers and navigation is appealing to them.
The most useful standard segments to apply are:
Paid and natural search traffic
First time visitors or returning visitors
I’ll write more about custom segments in a later post, but for me, the most useful are:
Visits from brand and non-brand searches
Visits from social media
Visits from key markets or country
Visits involving different conversion types
Engaged visits, etc
Read more Advanced segments:3. Creating dashboards and custom reports within Google Analytics
When you first log-in to Google Analytics, you start with the dashboard screen for your selected profile. This is arguably less easy to configure than dashboards in other analytics systems. You can move, add or subtract reports. You add additional standard report widgets through using the “Add to Dashboard” option.
Motion charts can be customsied in reports where the “€œVisualisation”€ option is available at the top of the screen.
Tip: Add additional standard or custom reports to your dashboard and then add then schedule a daily, weekly or monthly email.
Read more on custom reports:
Read more about Bubble charts and motion charts
4. Setting up marketing campaign tracking
Many companies will track AdWords because of it’s automated integration enabled from Google AdWords, but they may not track other codes or have a standard notation which needs to be defined and then added to all links involving media placements.
Google Analytics uses 5 standard dimensions for a campaign which need to be incorporated into the query string of the URL for each ad placement as this example shows:
The campaigns report in Google Analytics will then enable you to compare media.
The table explains each of these 5 dimensions which refers to this example:
The name of the marketing campaign, e.g. Spring Campaign.
Media channel (i.e. email, banner, CPC, etc).
What is the ‘distribution method’ that is used to get our message out to our clients?
Who are you partnering with to push your message. A publisher such as chúng tôi or for paid search, Google, Yahoo, Live Search, etc
The version of the ad (used for A/B testing) or in AdWords. You can identify two versions of the same ad using this variable. This is not always used and is NOT included in the above example.
The search term purchased (if the link refers to keywords).
This is not always used and is NOT included in the above example.
The Google URL builder can help with creating these links.
Note that in the major Fall 2008 upgrade to Google Analytics, Advanced segmentation provides some standard source codes for campaign types such as paid search.
Tip: Defining a standard set of online marketing source codes is essential to determining the value of different referral sources such as ad campaigns or email campaigns.
Tracking offline campaign referrals
Many companies will reference promotional URLs or so-called vanity URLs (we hate that term) in offline Print ad, Direct Mail and TV campaigns to make it easy for the customers to fulfil the offer.
Of course, they also want to track the effectiveness of different promotions.
Best practice in such offline or multichannel tracking has been explained well by Avinash in his post: Multichannel Analytics: Tracking Online Impact Of Offline Campaigns.
As with digital campaign tracking, offline campaign tracking should use standard codes for medium, source and campaign name.5. Modifying profile setup within “Google Analytics Settings”.
The Google Analytics settings section is more likely to be used by analytics specialists who have experience of previous setup, but some of the changes are quite straightforward. We we will cover the 4 main types of settings changes most businesses will need to make:A. Setting up conversion goals.
Visitors to a site do not have equal value to a company, they engage to different degrees as indicated by the types of pages they visit.
A visitor who has visited a product page, registered for an e-newsletter, bought a product or visited the contact page is clearly more engaged – in web analytics we call these “value events”.
Tip: Setting up value goals to report $Index Value and Goal Value per Visit
This is another really powerful option I find isn’t used much eventhough you can apply it to the many non-Ecommerce sites (this post by Brian Clifton author of Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics explains how. But the approach of assigning value to goals is incredibly useful since you can compare how successful different pages, referrers and journeys are in influencing conversion goals and generating value.
In Ecommerce sites, value from sales transactions are used to automatically populate $Index values and you can also report on Revenue per Visit.
Even for non-transactional sites, you should set a nominal value on each value event such as a newsletter signup or lead-generation form since you can then see which traffic sources or pages influence success.
Arguably the best use for this is to exclude visitors who are not engaged at all i.e. poor quality traffic which isn’t well targeted. I suggest greater than 10 seconds and greater than one or two pages per visit.
Avinash Kaushik has a great post on the rationale and examples of conversion goals.B. Setting up conversion funnels
Funnels representing the different steps in a checkout process are an essential piece of configuration for retailers. After these have been setup up you can then visualise the drop-off or attrition at each stage. But you can set up funnels for most types of site.
Tip: Setup Higher-level conversion funnels. They can also be setup for sites showing how many people engage with different parts of the site such as browsing or searching for products, viewing product content which then contribute to a lead or a sale.C. Setting up on-site search
On site search is not setup as often as you would expect in my experience, but is usually easy – you simply specify the search parameter which is a text string used to tell the search engine what the query term is. For example, my sites use the Google custom search engine which like chúng tôi uses the search parameter ‘q’.
Analysing the volume and types of searches completed by site visitors can pay dividends to find the type of content visitors are looking for and whether they can actually find it or leave the site frustrated!
These types of insights are available:
If you are using a Google appliance for search or Google custom search for providing on-site search configuration is straightforward. But other search engines can be integrated through specifying the query string parameters to Google Analytics.
D. Setting up Filters and profiles
The granularity with which you collect and report data should be consistent with the way the organisation is structured since different people in the organisation will likely NOT want to review the results for the entire site, but instead you will want to separate out data for part of the company or a particular product, service or audience they are responsible for. Common options which you should consider to report separately on include:
To report separately on domains, sub-domains or sub-folders you need to apply the concepts of profiles and filters within Google Analytics. You may even want to have different accounts with different unique tracking codes for different countries, particularly if they operate as separate entities and you want to apply different currency and time zones to the report. Each account will use a different unique tracking code, but you will need to remember to include an aggregrate tracking code to report all the sites together.
A Google Analytics profile will typically be used to produce reports for different sites , subdomains or subfolders. Google Analytics Help on Profiles.
So, on my site I have a master profile that is unmodified for the entire site other than a filter for excluding my IP address together with other profiles for particular types of content such as blog content or visitor segments such as returning visitors. You should specify your default page for the profile, e.g. index.html.
A Google Analytics filter is applied to modify data from a particular profile so that it shows a subset of data within the profile. A filter will often be used to show visitor interactions with product information stored in a sub-domain or subfolder. Google Analytics Help on Filters.
In this example I have a filter which is applied to my Right Touching blog which only includes visitors who go to that sub-folder.
For example, a filter could restrict results to first time time visitors or returning visitors. With the Advanced Segmentation feature in Google Analytics you are effectively provided with several default filters, such as all visitors from
So you can see this is complex! You need to get this right from the outset of collecting data since profiles and filters cannot be applied retrospectively, applying filters incorrectly will introduece errors and introducing new profiles will lead to employee confusion.Excluding employees from report.
This configuration is relatively simple! You don’t want visitors from a company skewing the results, so these should be excluded unless you want to artificially boost your visitor numbers and have difficultly understanding visitor behaviour.
A filter should be created to exclude a range of IP addresses for company employees and contractors working in different offices.
Alternatively, if staff have a range of IP addressses or dynamic IP addresses then using the _setVar function call on a page used by staff only (e.g. Intranet home page) to update a cookie to filter staff out. Both strategies are explained below:
6. Customisations that require server modifications
There are 5 main types of customisation that may be required which involve changes to the tracking code that will need to be configured or coded within the content management or Ecommerce system.A. Ecommerce Tracking
E-retailers will need to enable E-commerce tracking for their Profiles since this isn’t enabled by default. Ticking the tick-box will be straightforward.
The reports summarising E-commerce transactions and revenue within require inclusion of additional tracking code on the checkout completion page specifying order and product information.
Including the transaction information about the order and product(s) will be less straightforward, but many popular E-commerce systems will support this.
var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-XXXXX-1”); pageTracker._trackPageview();pageTracker._addTrans( "1234", "Mountain View", // Affiliation "11.99", // Total "1.29", "5", "San Jose", // City "California", "USA" pageTracker._addItem( "1234", "DD44", "T-Shirt", "Green Medium", // Category "11.99", "1" pageTracker._trackTrans();
Google Analytics E-commerce Help Documentation
B. Event Tracking
In Google Analytics, Events apply to interactions with content made by visitors, so if they are setup, they are found within the Content reports section of Google Analytics.
Event tracking allows you to track additional types of events other than page views. The most important are:
Video or rich media interactions
Outbound or external links.
This is a good example of a link/downloading tracking script:
For video tracking an additional script isn’t required, see Google announcement of final rollout of Event tracking June 2009:
This shows that Event Tracking can be specified with these parameters to the _trackEvent() method values of which then appear in the Analytics Reports interface under content:
This is an example from Google help:
In this scenario, the reports for Events would display Videos as the Category, Play as the Action, and Baby’s First Birthday as the Label. The rest of this document describes these components in detail. Bear in mind that when you implement Event Tracking, you can use this data model as a guide, or you can simply use the _trackEvent() method to segment user interaction in any way that works for your data.C. Custom variables for visitor segmentation.
Custom variables apply to Visitors, so they are found within the Visitor reports section if specified.
Custom variables were originally specified through a call to _setVar, but are set through _setCustomVar. They are most often used for defining specific segments based on the profile detail identified through a form or consuming particular content.
Options for setting custom variables including:
Customer vs non-customer
Different customer segment (or demographic profile variables like male or female). For example, Econsultancy has Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum member segments
Segmenting visitors according to landing page
Recording referral source attribution
Categorising different content types
When your work gets really busy and you have to get a number of tasks done before a given deadline, it is recommended you use a to-do list app that keeps track of all the tasks that you are supposed to do. When you finish a task, you can then check it off in the app and move on to the next one. That way, the chances are almost slim to none of forgetting a really important task, such as reminding your boss that you will not be able to attend the next meeting due to personal reasons.
If you are an Android user, there are a number of apps that you can use to keep your tasks organized. Here are six to-do list apps that help you manage your tasks on your Android device:1. Google Keep
Not only is Google Keep a note-taking app, but it serves as a to-do list app as well. Once installed, you can start adding notes as well as tasks that you wish to be reminded about, and it will take care of everything for you.
When you are done with a task, you can have it checked off so that you can focus on the remaining ones. The great thing is it syncs your tasks across all of your linked devices so they are always available to you regardless of what device you are using.
The app is available free of cost in the Google Play store.2. TickTick
TickTick is an Android app that allows you to make the most out of your every clock tick. It helps you keep your tasks organized in such a way that they can be easily accomplished. Some of the features the app comes with are: syncing of tasks across all of your devices, widgets for your tasks, tagging tasks so they can be easily found at a later time, and so on. It is definitely a great app you should try out on your device.
You can grab the app for free from the Google Play store.3. Any.do
Any.do helps you be more productive by allowing you to put all of your tasks on a simple, intuitive interface and then you can get your work started from there. The app includes tons of features that you can make use of to add and remove tasks from your device.
One of these features lets you add tasks using your voice. An ideal situation where you can use this feature is when you are on the subway and you really need a task to be added but your hands are full and you can’t really type out the whole task. Just speak the task out and it will be added for you. It is really cool, isn’t it?
The app doesn’t cost a penny and you can obtain it from the Google Play store.4. Tasks
As the name implies, Tasks for Android is a task management app designed solely to help you simplify your huge workload and make you a bit more organized. It is an open-source app, meaning it could get many new features from the community, rather than being a closed-source that only the authorized developers can add features to.
This is one of the less-cluttered apps that only has the things you really need, leaving everything else out. Your tasks look clearer on the simple interface of the app. Just like any other app, you can have your tasks checked off when you are done with them.
You can get it for free from the Google Play store.5. Todoist
Having its presence on almost all platforms including the web, Todoist for Android is a perfect task management app to help you never forget your important tasks. It brings with it a number of useful features, such as visual scheduling to help you schedule your tasks, offline planning so you can plan even when you are not connected to the Internet, and cloud syncing.
With all these features present in the app, you are sure to never forget your tasks and never lose them even if you get your device gets wiped, because the tasks are synced with the cloud.
The app can be downloaded for free from the Google Play store.6. SplenDO
SplenDO for Android comes with a lot of features built-in, so you don’t need to use a separate app for the features that the app lacks. The app lets you add tasks, group the tasks, place a tasks widget on your home screen, use the quick taskbar to quickly add a task, and so on.
If you have got a number of tasks to be done in a given time frame, you can use the batch mode to add them all easily instead of using the individual adding mode.
There’s a lot to be explored in the app, so go ahead and download it for free from the Google Play Store.Conclusion
Humans tend to forget things and that is when apps like those mentioned above come into the picture. They help people remember the tasks that they are supposed to do and help them keep these tasks organized.
Mahesh Makvana is a freelance tech writer who’s written thousands of posts about various tech topics on various sites. He specializes in writing about Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android tech posts. He’s been into the field for last eight years and hasn’t spent a single day without tinkering around his devices.
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A firewall audit is a multistep process that gives organizations insight into the status and effectiveness of the firewalls installed throughout their network. These audits provide visibility into potential vulnerabilities and the health of connections going to and from firewalls. They also uncover information about firewall changes since the last audit.
Firewalls are critical elements within a larger network security structure, serving as gatekeepers for incoming, outgoing, and internal network traffic. As traffic flows across the network, firewalls located at each network segment evaluate traffic packets, blocking traffic that does not meet pre-established security parameters. While firewalls are effective network security tools, they must be kept up-to-date and routinely monitored. That’s where the firewall audit process comes in.
On a related topic, also see: Top Cybersecurity Software
The primary reason to invest time and resources into firewalls audits is the inherent nature of firewalls — they need constant updating to remain effective against rapidly evolving threats.
It’s also an important best security practice to monitor firewall rules to ensure they have been properly configured. Improperly configured rules can weaken firewalls and attract unauthorized access. If firewalls are unable to identify, isolate, and reject malicious traffic packets, an entire enterprise network can be put in significant danger.
Firewall audits are also important for maintaining compliance with various industry regulations focused on network security and data protection. By performing in-house audits, organizations can feel assured they will be ready for an unexpected network audit by a regulatory body.
Firewall audits address the fact that firewall management can be complex and time-consuming. Having a step-by-step process for working through the review process helps to make sense of what can feel like an overwhelming task.
For more information, also see: What is Big Data Security?
These 6 steps will help you develop a firewall audit plan. For organizations operating in sectors like finance and banking, healthcare, and other industries where sensitive public data needs to be protected, you may need to seek out additional checkpoints to include in your firewall audit process.
Before you launch your firewall audit, it’s important to ensure you have good visibility into your network, including a good handle on hardware, software, policies, risks, and how users interact with the network. Gather the following information:
Information from prior audits, especially documents and reports covering firewall objects, policy revisions, and most importantly, details about firewall rules that have been applied.
List of every internet service provider (ISP) and virtual private network (VPN) used by the organization.
Security policy documentation (including updates that have been communicated but not added to official documentation yet).
Firewall log reports (at least at a high level — make sure you know how to quickly access more detailed information you may need later).
Firewall vendor information like OS version, default configurations, and reporting on the latest patches that have been provided onsite or remotely.
At this stage, be sure to centralize this information in a place where other people involved in the firewall audit can access it. This will make it much simpler to keep everyone on the same page and to avoid situations where time is being wasted tracking down redundant information. Establishing a “single source of truth” goes a long way toward conducting a good firewall audit.
A firewall audit is a good opportunity to determine the effectiveness of the organization’s change management processes. Before making firewall changes, it’s a good idea to make sure the process is well-documented and uniform. The goal should always be to have a stable, reliable change management process. When changes are made in haphazard ways, myriad issues can arise. Consider these questions as you evaluate the change management process:
Who is implementing changes? It should be easy to determine who “owns” every change made to a firewall.
Are changes being tested? Documentation about testing should be available to review during a firewall audit.
Who is approving requested changes? Ideally, there should be a reliable “chain of command” when it comes to making substantial changes to any firewall across the organization’s network.
Ultimately, firewall changes should be governed by a formal, documented process that maintains integrity. Every category of firewall changes should be handled in the same way, every time.
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This step relates to the rate of responsiveness an organization has for neutralizing cyber threats. Can your organization quickly isolate and stop attacks before they spread throughout the wider network? A close examination of each firewall’s physical and software security perspectives can help to answer this fundamental network security question. Here are a few ways to perform these evaluations:
Introduce controlled access to secure firewall and other relevant servers.
Determine if the operating system conforms to standard hardening checklists.
Examine device administration procedures to ensure they are robust enough.
Verify that vendor patches and updates are being implemented fully and in a timely manner.
Review a list of authorized users who can physically access firewall server rooms.
Are there rules in the mix that don’t serve a purpose?
Can you disable any unused or expired objects and rules?
Are firewall rules related to performance and effectiveness prioritized correctly?
Are there any unused connections, including irrelevant routes?
Are objects labeled according to standard object-naming conventions?
Are VPN parameters up-to-date? Are there any expired or unattached groups, expired or unattached users or unused users?
Do firewall logs reveal whether policies are being applied adequately?
Are permissive rules still relevant or do these need adjusting or updating?
Are there similar rules that could be merged into single rules?
Risk assessment is a major component of any firewall audit. After all, your main goal is to determine whether the organization’s network is sitting vulnerable due to firewall inadequacies. Take your time to determine whether firewall rules truly comply with internal policies and evolving industry regulations and standards.
This step will be unique to each organization, so be sure to apply the industry standards and best practices that apply to you. Every organization also carries its own determination of acceptable risk (a financial services company may have a much lower tolerance for risk versus a small outbound call center, for example, though both rely on up-to-date firewall protection).
As you evaluate the list of rules, consider whether:
The rule permits risky services from your demilitarized zone (DMZ) to the internal network.
The rule permits risky services inbound from the internet, in general.
The rule permits risky services outbound from the internet.
The rule contains “ANY” in any user field.
The rule runs afoul of corporate security policy.
The rule falls short of corporate security policy requirements.
It’s also a good idea to review firewall configurations and rules against any regulatory standards that may apply, including:
Keep the momentum going. Once you’ve had success with your first firewall audit, make a goal of continuous compliance. These steps can help:
Create a process that can be replicated in the future, and make sure the process is well-documented so that any analyst can conduct the audit based on the materials.
Consider smart automation that could be integrated into the process, with a goal of eliminating error-prone manual tasks.
Be sure any significant changes impacting firewall policy and rule changes are communicated to the point person or team responsible for conducting firewall audits so that these modifications can be considered during the next audit.
For more information, also see: Artificial Intelligence in Cybersecurity
By creating a process for conducting ongoing firewall audits, you’ll have a better handle on your organization’s overall security posture. Firewalls are integral to any network security approach, so it is vital they are maintained and monitored as thoroughly as any other network asset.
While this process can feel overwhelming, having a firewall audit checklist like this can help keep things organized and straightforward.
SFC Scannow not Working: Fix it in 6 Speedy Steps Running the SFC scan in Safe Mode is a quick workaround
Sfc /scannow is an instruction that runs in Command Prompt as an administrator. It is a handy and viral scan because it can be used to solve a large spectrum of problems.
Make sure you run cmd as administrator, disable Turbo Memory or try using the DISM scan when the command freezes.
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Sfc /scannow is a Command Prompt command that allows you to scan your Windows system for errors and repair them. This is a valuable feature, but several users reported that sfc /scannow is not working anymore.
This can be a big problem, but there are several solutions that you can try. Follow along!
How long should SFC Scannow take?
The sfc /scannow process should take a couple of minutes up to one hour. If the process takes longer than one hour, it might get stuck.
Follow along as we have prepared a list of solutions for you to try to fix any sfc /scannow, not working issues.Why is SFC Scannow stuck?
This is because your computer contains specific corrupt system files, which prohibit it from carrying out tasks associated with the sfc /scannow command.
If the scan falls, you have to fix corrupted system files in Windows using different methods. Usually, the best alternative is the DISM scan.
Sometimes you might get an error message like the SFC /scannow Windows resource protection could not perform.
If you’re unlucky and DISM scan will fail as well, then you might have to reconsider reinstalling your operating system.
Here are some of the most common issues the users reported, which we will cover today:How do I fix the SFC scannow if it’s not working?
Before attempting any of the troubleshooting methods below, make sure to check the following:1. Run the DISM scan
Press Windows, then enter cmd and select the Run as administrator option on the right.
When Command Prompt opens, enter the following command and note that it can take a while: DISM /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth
The DISM scan allows you to repair your system, and if sfc /scannow is not working or if it can’t fix the problem, you can use DISM to fix it.2. Run the CHKDSK scan
Tap Windows, then type cmd into the search bar and select Run as administrator.
When Command Prompt starts, enter the following command and press Enter. You’ll be asked to schedule a scan and restart your PC. Enter Y and then press Enter: chkdsk /f C:
Sometimes the data on your hard drive can get corrupted, causing the SFC scan to get stuck. However, you might be able to fix the problem by running a CHKDSK scan.3. Try to run the SFC scan from Safe Mode
If you’re not familiar, Safe Mode is a particular segment of Windows that runs with default applications and settings, making it perfect for troubleshooting. You can try to run this process from Safe Mode.
2. Once your PC restarts, you’ll be presented with options. Select the desired version of Safe Mode by pressing the corresponding key.
4. Type the following command and press Enter to see whether it works now:sfc /scannow
Several users reported that they were able to run the SFC scan from Safe Mode, so be sure to try that.4. Perform a System Restore
System Restore is a valuable feature that allows you to fix various problems. Many users reported that this issue was resolved after restoring their PC with the System Restore tool.
If you’re interested in more info on how to create a restore point and how that would help you, look at our dedicated article to find out everything you need to know.5. Reset your PC
You might have to reset your PC if other solutions don’t work. This procedure will delete all files from your C partition, so be sure to create a backup. For example, to reset Windows, do the following:6. Take control of the system32 directory
In addition, the system32 directory is closely related to your system, so that any changes can affect your Windows installation. In the worst-case scenario, your Windows might not be able to boot, so keep in mind that you’re using this solution at your own risk.
Several users reported that they solved this issue simply by taking control of a system32 directory. There are many ways to do that; the best might be to use a third-party application.
We explained in detail how to take ownership over a directory in one of our previous articles, so be sure to check it out for more information.How to stop sfc /scannow in Windows 10?
If sfc /scannow stops, it’s usually due to corrupted files, and you can fix this problem by following the above methods. However, there are other ways to fix corrupted files; we recommend you check that out.
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