Books to Get You Thinking

A rapid proliferation of computing, communications and mobile smart devices is quickly changing the world we live in.  Our universe is becoming increasingly interconnected and instrumented. There is an explosion of data spanning many facets of business operations and social experience. Approximately 90 percent of stored data in the world is less than 2 years old. Big Data is a new discipline focused on the analysis of vast of amounts of data to create new insights and intelligence which will enable us to make smarter decisions and achieve operational excellence.  The invention of steam engines and the railway played a critical role in the rise and expansion of the Industrial Age, unleashing new levels of productivity and movement of goods.  In the Digital Age, Big Data is poised to play a similar role by fundamentally changing the way new products and services are created and delivered, and how knowledge is acquired and refined to drive innovations in a global economy. Here are three selections from the Mercer County Library's collection covering different facets of this new technology:

Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Viktor Mayer- Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier                                                                                                                                                               The book  introduces readers to the fascinating world of Big Data cogently putting together the many varied and different areas where this new technology is quietly transforming the way  business is being conducted . The origins of Big Data are traced to civilization’s first steps towards counting and measuring, the subsequent birth of the Arab numeral system and, later, with the emergence of the statistical correlation theory.  The authors focus on some interesting examples from the areas of public health, scientific research, business and government sectors, highlighting how vast amounts of data coming from different sources can be mined to promote innovation and growth by helping shape policy. The authors cite the example of Google – the company stores all its search queries and, during the time of the H1N1 flu outbreak, Google was able to predict the path of the flu epidemic in advance by simply analyzing millions of search queries in different regions of the country involving questions about  flu symptoms and medications.

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

Readers are introduced to Big Data tools and how this technology could be leveraged to enhance business productivity.  The authors discuss in detail new approaches to building digital marketing campaigns and advertising strategies through the analysis of huge amounts of information now available through social media.  Other examples include addressing fraud detection and risk management in the financial services segment. The book provides valuable insights into the important issues of Data Privacy and Data Security as well as Data Visualization and applications of new computing solutions such as cloud services to attack Big Data problems. The size of the data volume requiring ever increasing storage capacity is just one element of the Big Data challenge.  The other complexities that arise are data variety (a large portion of the incoming data is unstructured like e-mails, digital images, blogs ) and data velocity (the speed of incoming data, and data growth rate). Drawing on their experience in managing large information systems, the authors come up with novel systems and methods to address these challenges.

The New Digital Age by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen
 This book provides an exciting glimpse into the future of the digital age and how increased connectivity through the Internet will impact our business, social and political landscapes. The authors analyze how instant access to information through mobile devices could lead to dramatic improvements in the fields of education, healthcare, and social communications. Empowerment enabled by the increased connectivity to vast information resources could help strengthen democratic institutions and promote economic development through reducing inequality. One  interesting element in  the authors’ narrative is the dynamic interaction of two worlds: the physical world which has evolved over thousands of  years and  the virtual world which is  in its infancy right now  but  would quickly  become a far more potent force  as billions of people from all over the world join the digital space . Striking a balance between the physical and the virtual worlds, and making the right choices and trade-offs, will determine the pace of human progress in the future.

                                                                                                                                      -Nita Mathur 


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