When one searches for "analytics" within books on Amazon.com, one gets well over 30,000 results. Clearly, a lot of books have been published on the topics of analytics and big data, particularly over the past decade.
Broadly speaking, these books seem to fall into three categories:
- Technical books focused on teaching the specific tools and techniques to apply analytics to big data.
- Books for the general business reader meant to provide really interesting anecdotes about how all aspects of our work and life are going to change drastically because of the application of analytics.
- Books geared towards to executives and managers, who don't need to build analytical models themselves, but do need to complement their business intuition with data-informed decision making, and thus need to work closely with data scientists.
I highlight three books below that executives and managers (with no formal analytics background or training) might find useful. All three of these books are written such that they are easy to understand:
- Big Data at Work: Dispelling the Myths, Uncovering the Opportunities – by Thomas H. Davenport (Book Summary/Review): This book provides a basic introduction to big data, and its impact on an executive's job, organization, and industry. It covers both the technology as well as human aspects of big data, and concludes with a tour of key learnings that can be gleaned from some of the large as well as small companies, who have been leaders in strategically using big data to strengthen and grow their business.
- Keeping Up with the Quants: Your Guide to Understanding and Using Analytics – by Thomas H. Davenport, Jinho Kim (Book Summary/Review): This book is indeed a "quantitative literacy" guide, as aptly claimed by its authors. It makes an eloquent case for why everyone needs analytical skills in today's world, and then lays out pragmatic approaches for how data-focused problems can be framed, solved, and how the results can be communicated to achieve the desired impact. The second half of the book gives us a quick but useful tour of relevant terms and techniques so a general business manager or executive can better understand what quants actually do, and also provides them valuable tips on how to effectively work with quants.
- Behind Every Good Decision: How Anyone Can Use Business Analytics to Turn Data into Profitable Insight – by Piyanka Jain, Puneet Sharma (Book Summary/Review): This book pushes back on the mystique and aura surrounding big data to argue that you can use whatever data you have got to drive smart business decisions. It lays out a useful 5-step framework - BADIR - to move from data to decisions. A concluding chapter on common pitfalls to avoid in moving to data-based decision making, and case studies in the appendix further add to the utility of this book.
While we are on the topic of recommended books, I am happy to inform readers that Evalueserve's CEO and Co-founder Marc Vollenweider has been invited by a top-notch publishing house to author a book. Watch out for more details on it (including the publication date and schedule for a global book tour) in the coming months. In the meantime, you can learn more about Evalueserve's analytics capabilities here and here.