Book Review: Big Data Big Analytics

Big Data Big Analytics: Emerging Business Intelligence and Analytic Trends for Today’s Businesses, by Michael Minelli, Michele Chambers and Ambiga Dhiraj.

Books on Big Data tend to fall into two categories: they are either “strategic” and written at a very high level, or they are cookbooks that tell you how to set up a Hadoop cluster.  Moreover, many of these books focus narrowly on data management — an interesting subject in its own right for those who specialize in the discipline, but yawn-inducing for managers in Sales, Marketing, Risk Management, Merchandising or Operations who have businesses to run.

Hey, we can manage petabytes of data.  Thank you very much.  Now go away.

Big Data Big Analytics appeals to business-oriented readers who want a deeper understanding of Big Data, but aren’t necessarily interested in writing MapReduce code.   Moreover, this is a book about analytics — not just how we manage data, but what we do with it and how we make it drive value.

The authors of this book — Michael Minelli, Michele Chambers and Ambiga Dhiraj — combine in-depth experience in enterprise software and data warehousing with real-world experience delivering analytics for clients.  Building on interviews with a cross-section of subject matter experts — there are 58 people listed in the acknowledgements — they map out the long-cycle trends behind the explosion of data in our economy, and the expanding tools to manage and learn from that data.  They also point to some of the key bottlenecks and constraints enterprises face as they attempt to deal with the tsunami of data, and provide sensible thinking about how to address these constraints.

Big Data Big Analytics includes rich and detailed examples of working applications.  This is refreshing; books in this category tend to push case studies to the back of the book, or focus on one or two niche applications.  This book documents the disruptive nature of Big Data analytics across numerous vertical and horizontal applications, including Consumer Products, Digital Media, Marketing, Advertising, Fraud and Risk Management, Financial Markets and Health Care.

The book includes excellent chapters that describes the technology of Big Data, chapters on Information Management, Business Analytics, Human Factors — people, process, organization and culture.   The final chapter is a good summary of Privacy and Ethics.

The Conclusion aptly summarizes this book: it’s not how much data you have, it’s what you do with it that matters.  Big Data Big Analytics will help you get started.

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