Atanu Basu has seen the future, and initially he didn’t know what to call it. “We used to call it predictive decision management, and then we realized prescriptive analytics was a better phrase,” he said. Basu is CEO of Ayata, a 10-year-old company that makes software designed to analyze the present in order to predict the future and — here’s its claim to fame — prescribe how to benefit from what’s ahead. Think of it as the next evolution of analytics. Rather than describe the future and leave it up to us humans to decide what to do, prescriptive analytics just tells us. “It’s like a cooking recipe: Add oil, wait for five minutes, let the color turn brown; when the color turns brown, now you sprinkle the spice,” he said. Voila! Bon appetit!