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While businesses try as hard as they can to anticipate the actions of the market, the success of investments and the efficiency of daily practices, there's one factor that is always difficult to anticipate: people. No matter how well-devised a business plan is, it will never get off the ground if employees don't perform as expected.

How can companies gain insight into employee actions and respond to staff issues before they become major problems? Predictive analytics find its way into a number of industries and organizations as an attempt to look out for warning signs and guide behavior. However, the question is: When is collecting data on human beings an effective business solution, and when does it violate privacy?

Monitoring behavior
College is often the first time a person gets a chance at true independence. Creating one's own academic career is an opportunity to make decisions and learn from the consequences. Education Dive detailed how the University of Maryland used predictive modeling tools to provide support for students.

A university examines student library activities to analyze academic performance. A university examines student library activities to analyze academic performance.

The University of Maryland recently launched a program to monitor student behavior on campus. Recognizing which students frequently visit the library or log into educational resources should help the school identify who performs well and which students need help. While the goal is to intervene before someone misses their chance to make the most of their opportunities, critics of the program worry it's invasive and removes responsibility from the student.

The privacy advocates in the Maryland example would be more comfortable with the program if the university was transparent about its data collection procedures. Research has shown being open about data monitoring promotes support from participants. Also, the more they know, the better they'll perform.

Data visibility and employee cooperation 
Entrepreneur magazine shared the results of a number of business experiments with wearable technology. Employees carried out tasks while wearing devices that monitored their performance and provided information on activities. Automated alerts let them know when an action needed to be taken, and users could check the data to see how they were doing. In the end, employees utilizing wearable technology increased productivity by 8.5 percent and reported a 3.5 percent growth in job satisfaction.

Routine data collection can give managers great insight into employee performance. ERE Media said pairing that information with predictive modeling tools can help bosses identify exceptional talent, as well as staff that's falling behind. Sharing performance analysis software results with employees can help them adjust their own behavior by giving them hard numbers on goals they need to meet, as opposed to vague suggestions. Working with data collection and predictive analytics allows managers and employees access to the proper tools for planning future activities together.