Maybe you are freshly graduated from a business programme, or a few years out – one of the fundamental things you learned is the speed at which business evolves. Such evolution is certainly the case with business analytics. It will always be necessary to keep some texts on-hand for convenient referencing or as an occasional refresher. But given the proliferation of business analytics books available, which are the most likely to provide the most insights and skill enhancements? The best way to start determining the most useful books is by exploring the current business analytics environment.
The Current Business Environment
Many businesses that make successful use of analytics tend to use business results as their benchmark. Those who make the use of business analytics generally include:
- Executive management
Considering the purpose of business analytics, the above is not surprising. Executive management requires such analytics to make the most informed decisions for the business model and strategies. Those in operations must always have an eye toward improving processes, increasing efficiencies and cutting costs. Sales professionals use analytics to close sales and get a competitive advantage over others in the market.
There are also essential technologies in business analytics, such as data mining, machine learning, visualisation and reporting. Constant advancement in these areas also makes it necessary for business analytics professional to have current business analytics books on hand.
Other reasons for an analytics book list? To be aware of books written by and for the business professionals to keep perspective in the seemingly boundless world of data and data management. It is vital to ensure that you, as a professional, is managing the data, not the data managing you.
Top Ten Books for BA Grads
The significant factors employed in creating this list include the recommendations of others in the business, the credentials of the authors, and in some cases the year published (particularly when it focuses on working with technology). Area of focus was also a consideration, given the exploration of the current business environment. This list is intended to benefit those in executive management, operations, sales – and those who are responsible for informing them.
1. Data Strategy: How to Profit from a World of Big Data, Analytics and the Internet of Things. 2017
This book has been recommended by both Business Intelligence Solutions Review and Analytics Insight. The author, Bernard Marr, is a futurist and business strategist. The book contains chapters on determining your business's strategic data needs (e.g. better business decisions, transforming the business model, and improving operations). There are also sections on sourcing, collecting, and monetising data. Marr concludes the book with chapters on data governance (security, ownership and privacy) and putting the data strategy into practice.
2. Business Analytics: Data Analysis & Decision Making. 2015
S. Christian Albright (Professor Emeritus of Decision Sciences, Indiana University – Bloomington) and Wayne L. Winston (Professor Emeritus of Decision and Information Systems – Indiana University Kelley School of Business) are the authors. They describe the basics of business analytics, from exploring the data (distributions, variables, outliers, missing values, etc.) to probability and decision-making and statistical inference. They cover regression analysis and time series forecasting as well as optimization and simulation modelling. They include advanced techniques such as ANOVA and classification methods.
3. Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die. 2013
Written by Eric Siegel, Ph.D., former Columbia University professor and founder of Predictive Analytics World, this book contains a thorough examination of the effects of prediction, deploying predictive models, and machine learning. The book includes numerous examples from a variety of businesses so the reader can have a complete understanding of the power of prediction.
4. Data Science for Business: What You Need to Know about Data Mining and Data-Analytic Thinking. 2013
This book was recommended by both Analytics Insight and the Ultimate Business Intelligence Guide. Foster Provost (Professor and NEC Faculty Fellow at the NYU Stern School of Business) and Tom Fawcett (Ph.D. in machine learning and two decades of R&D industry experience) open their book with a discussion of how to engage in data-analytic thinking. This type of thinking generally consists of: what represents a data opportunity, understanding customer churn, etc. They then delve into business problems and data science solutions, including the data mining process.
5. Data Mining for Business Analytics: Concepts, Techniques, and Applications with XLMiner. 2016
Authored by Galit Shmueli (Distinguished Professor of Analytics, National Tsing Hua University), Peter C. Bruce (President and founder of the Institute for Statistics Education), and Nitin R. Patel (MIT's Sloan School and the Operations Research Center), the book contains techniques in the use of XLMiner (Analytic Solver Data Mining), an add-in for MS Excel. In addition to data mining, there are chapters on data visualisation, dimension reduction, logistic regression and neural nets as well as social network analytics.
6. Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals. 2015.
This book is also recommended by Business Intelligence Solutions Review and has merited favourable comparison in reviews to the seminal book on data visualisation, Show Me the Numbers (Stephen Few). The author, Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic, opens with "Bad Graphs are Everywhere." She reviews the importance of context when visualising business data, and explains how to choose the most effective visual for the story an analyst is telling with the information. Model visuals are dissected for their usefulness and impact.
7. Big Data in Practice: How 45 Successful Companies Used Big Data Analytics to Deliver Extraordinary Results. 2016
Another business analytics book written by Bernard Marr, this particular book covers the use of Big Data by such companies as Rolls-Royce, Netflix, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Google. The focus is on how to best utilise Big Data for insights and the discovery of new opportunities.
8. Business Intelligence Guidebook: From Data Integration to Analytics. 2015
The author, Rick Sherman (founder and managing partner of Athena IT Solutions), encapsulates the importance of the business demand for data neatly and informs the reader on how to manage volumes of data and how to discern between data and information. This guidebook covers defining the requirements of business intelligence, including roles, goals, and deliverables. Also included are architectural frameworks (such as information and data architectures). While including specifics on modelling and analysis, Sherman also discusses the business analytics organisation and project management.
9. Hyper: Changing the way you think about, plan, and execute business intelligence for real results, real fast! 2015
Greg Steffine (business intelligence strategist) covers the BI Value Chain (), what is critical for success, and how to accelerate planning. He includes techniques on accelerating execution ("Socialize, Market and Sell") and what he labels as "Beyond planning and execution" – perspectives on Big Data, information delivery, and working with consultants.
10. Business unIntelligence: Insight and Innovation beyond Analytics and Big Data. 2013.
The last book for your analytics book list is rather ironically titled Business UnIntelligence. Barry Devlin is the founder and principal of 9sight Consulting. Dr. Devlin explains in his preface that what he intends by Business UnIntelligence is the need to explore "what is wrong in how business is today and how to fix it." He explains concepts such as "Biz-Tech Ecosystems" and ideal and real enterprise architectures.
If you are considering a programme in business analytics, one programme to explore is Aston University's MSC Business Analytics Online which covers the material and information you will require to master your business analytics career.