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8 years ago
Book Review: Predictive Analytics for Newcomers and Nontechnical Readers


The book reviewed in the article, Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die, is provided as a complementary copy for all attendees at two Predictive Analytics World events coming to New York in October: PAW Business and PAW Financial.

As the COO of Rising Media, the production company behind the Predictive Analytics World conference series, I work with Eric Siegel, author of “Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die” – Revised and Updated Edition (Wiley, 2016). That might not make me the most unbiased reviewer of his book, but as a non-expert who desired a ramp-up on this advanced technology we cover in the conference, I was in great need of just this book. It gives readers like me an in-depth overview of the field and the industry in easy-to-read, enjoyable form.

“Predictive Analytics” is an introductory foray into the world of machine learning and big data, giving you a realistic look at the ways in which predictive analytics technology is changing the game. Computers can “learn” from data, and perform complex statistical maneuvering that allows them to use that data to predict individual behavior—in some cases, behavior that is years in the future. This book takes you on a tour of the industry and introduces you to the people, machines, and technology that are making it happen.

This year’s newly revised edition, which more firmly solidifies the book as an industry standard, includes new coverage of the NSA and data privacy, a look at the Obama campaign’s use of predictive analytics, and updates throughout that better reflect the current state of technology. A candid glimpse into an extraordinary field, the book shows you what’s already happening and what’s yet to come.

Former Columbia University professor Eric Siegel, founder of Predictive Analytics World, is a recognized authority in the field. In this book, he shares the wonder, promise, and pitfalls this technology brings to the table, and provides an engaging introduction to the power of data.

  • Find out how computers “learn” from data, and what they can teach us
  • Consider the safety, security, and civil liberties risks of big data
  • Learn the ways in which predictive analytics will shape the future
  • See how data-based prediction is already changing the way we do business

While there have been many, many books on analytics (aka big data) in recent years, “Predictive Analytics” – to my knowledge – remains the only one that does all three of the following with respect to the field of predictive analytics (in fact, no other book achieves more than one of these at once):

  1. Fully accessible (and, moreover, engaging/friendly) to non-technical readers, new-comers of any background
  2. Conceptually complete wrt the core technology itself, and thus qualified to serve as a university textbook (does so at 35+ universities)
  3. Full industry overview of value across all sectors; focus on real-world usage, illustrated via hundreds of brand-name examples

Furthermore, Chapter 6 – on IBM’s Watson computer winning on the TV quiz show “Jeopardy!” against the two all-time human champs – is the only public explanation understandable by any reader that actually gets concrete and substantive about how Watson works.

Given the book’s organization, the casual reader can learn everything he or she wants to know with a tactical skim,  getting a lot from a little:

  1. Read the Preface and Introduction for the big picture (they’re short!).
  2. Quickly skim the Central Tables to witness this field’s massive scope: industries, companies, and the variety of behaviors predicted.
  3. Read through the chapter descriptions in the table of contents to see what other topics may be of interest.
  4. Know that the chapters’ topics don’t drop off into obscurity. In fact, the final chapter covers the very biggest surprise “plot twist” of prediction.

Predictive analytics is an omniscient science. It is everywhere, and it affects everyone as it drives millions of decisions across a full spectrum of industries. You consume it, you are a part of it, and you will one day come to depend on it. “Predictive Analytics” helps you get a handle on this burgeoning technology, with insight from a leader in the field.

Author Bio:

Adam R. Kahn serves as Chief Operating Officer, Rising Media, Inc, as well as Publisher of Predictive Analytics Times and eMetrics Times.

A graduate of Northeastern University (M.S., 1996) and Hofstra University (B.A., 1993) Mr. Kahn joined Rising Media, Inc in 2012. Over his career he has spent the past 14 years working in event, conference and publishing management capacities at Diversified Business Communications, IIR, IMARK Communications and Key3Media (formerly ZD Events) managing a variety of industry specific brands/products including: BAWorld, BA Times, Project Times, ProjectWorld, Symposium on Healthcare Design, Projects@Work, Linux Business Expo, ASP Summit, COMDEX, Networld+Interop.

Prior to his event and conference experience, Mr. Kahn worked in Student Affairs managing student activities, residential life, judicial affairs, and career services at several New England based Universities and Colleges.

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