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The essay is a critical analysis of the book titled “Super Crunchers” written by Ian Ayers. It is worth noting that students who will be future managers have in place various mechanisms to learn about important concepts that will help them make rational judgments. One such way to learn and understand these concepts is through analysis of literatures that are related to management.
The book is about how there is increasing use of simple statistical models being applied to large sets of data to help organizations make rational decisions in various sectors such as airline, hospitals, banks among others. To accomplish this task, a brief synopsis of the first four chapters of the book is done.
This is later followed by an examination of the book and more emphasis will be about how the book’s subject relates to the focus of this course: i.e., the use of information and technology to improve decision-making in modern enterprises and how does the reading add to my understanding of the subject of this course.
In the introduction (the rise of super crunchers), the author begun by bringing forth two individuals who sought to determine factors of a great wine as well as measuring the worth of a baseball player. The author asserts that in the first case, the model, turned out to be a better predicator of qualities of good wine than the efforts of traditional experts (Ayers 1).
Additionally Ian Ayers clearly states that these equations were arrived at while sitting in an office while manipulating data without external influence such as the label of the wine or the looks of the player. The result is outperformance of traditional experts making the two industries wine and baseball not to ignore such creativity.
In the following section, the author named it ‘creating your own data with their flip of a coin’. It is in this section that the author asserts that crunching data has not invaded and displaced traditional expert but it has also change lives. Additionally decision making has changed as well as the decisions themselves. The author further explore how organizations such as airlines and those who sell books through the internet are using available data to track customers and make decisions based their preferences.
He acknowledges that the internet is very important and the introduction of credit card was only for the selfish gains of business people who are interested in our personal data which will be later used to understand our preferences (Ayers 45). Organization have been formed which obtain and sell data which businesses are willing to pay good money to obtain such information.
The next section is titled government by chance which refers to organizations that have devoted their efforts to manipulating large data sets so that they can give consumers information that will guide their decisions. The forth chapter is titled ‘How should physicians treat evidence-based medicine’. In this section the author manages to show why equations or statistics are better place to predict as compared to traditional experts.
To illustrate this was a model developed by Don which he dubbed 100,000 lives campaign. According to him, if the six changes were to be incorporated in medical care facilities, then errors will be preventable saving 100,000 lives. Indeed it was later shown that upon initiating the changes, over 122,000 lives were saved (Ayers 13).
Analysis of the book
In this section, issues covered include the following; what should I make of the information provided in the assigned chapters, the content relation to the class objectives and my application of this information. It is no doubt that the contents of this books are directly related to the contents were have discussed in class so far.
For instance, the book talks of how statistics and numbers have been used to help managers make informed decision; the same has been covered in the course. Additionally, the views of the author asserting that the internet is the main platform for data crunching have been in our discussion in class.
Particularly we addressed how online shopping has provided businesses with the opportunity to tap customer personal information without the consent of the later and use the same information to understand their shopping behaviors, patterns and preferences. This has helped organizations to make decisions that will ensure they meet the demands and aspirations of specific group of customers.
On the same note, there are organizations that have emerged and are making a killing by collecting consumers’ data, analyze the same and provide them to organizations to help them gain competitive advantage (Ayers 43). It is also worth mentioning that the discussion we had in class through our online platform indicated that while we use technology to crunch numbers, individuals doing so sit behind a computer and are not influenced by other external factors, this has been echoed by the author of the book.
Lastly and more importantly, the author of the book clearly states that statistics has come to replace the traditional expert, change the way we make decisions as well as the decisions themselves. These views were held in our discussion; however, we acknowledged that the two augment each other. It is worth to note that all the information help boost the objective of the course, for instance the ability to interpret findings and use the same to make rational decisions among others.
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There is no doubt that the insightful information presented in this book has a lot of relevance to me. It has instilled in me the need to always think of numbers before rushing to make decisions. This is quit important since it will allow me not to make decision based on opinion but rather based on facts which when presented will make the other managers to back me up.
On the same note, I used to think that data mining can be applied only to specific sectors such as businesses, banks, hospitality industry. Ideally the ability of the author to use examples has made me understand how and when to use numbers while making decisions (Ayers 67). However after going through the book, I have realized that statistics or crunching numbers can be applied to all the relevant fields found under the planet earth.
It was indeed interesting to learn that numbers can be used in nursing to help save lives! I have also learnt that although traditional experts used to provide relevant information to help managers make informed decisions, there are instances where they are not at par with super crunching.
The major problem is coined to the fact that these experts are overconfident and ignore their flaws. I have to acknowledge that the author made it very clear to me some concepts of statistics such as regression and random trials. The kinds of examples he has brought forth played an integral role in ensuring that I understand basic concepts of statistics which is one of the objectives of this course.
However, although the author shone more light on how one can generate his or her own data through flipping of a coin, there are issues that he did not adequately address. One such issue is with regards to the moral ethics behind that initiative. In my view, although it is good to satisfy the consumers, having access to their personal information may be unethical particularly when the same is being used without the consent of these individuals (Ayers 34).
It is worth noting that I will indeed apply the things I have learnt as a manager to make decisions. For instance working as a marketing manager, I will try to use statistical models to develop the best combination of strategy to use while marketing goods and services of my organization to different market segments. The most fascinating thing the author brought to light that will always guide my endeavors while using numbers is to understand that there are instances when the approach is ineffective (Ayers 59).
Crunching numbers is not an end in itself. For instance when using data obtained from an organization data based obtained from customers, credit card and one of the customers buys a certain goods let say a baby product, the analysis may be tricked to tell the management to invest more on baby products.
According to Ayers 69 the idea here is for me to not only sit behind a computer and make prediction but also to think closely and between the lines about the numbers obtained. In this manner, this will help me arrive at decisions that will not hurt my reputation and more importantly that of my employer or my organization.
There is also no doubt that while applying number in trying to make decision, there are situations where I will be compelled to evaluate emerging issues. For instance the numbers obtained may lead me to discover a new issue. A thorough evaluation of the issue will be a plus since it will mean that the decision made has also incorporated other external and events no previously thought of or circumstances (Ayers 80).
From the book report of Super Crunchers, there is no doubt that the book was well thought out by the author. The language used is simple despite the fact that he used statistical terms. From the first four chapters, it is apparent that the author managed to clearly make the readers understand what crunching numbers mean. In the introduction section, the author used two clear examples which will draw every man’s attention on how and where statistics can be used to solve serious problems.
The same are succinctly developed throughout the subsequent four chapters. I have to admit that reading the book has added a lot of value on my knowledge about the course. Through the numerous case studies and his ability to use simple English, I have managed to understand how and when to crunch numbers.
Concerning the book relationship with the course, there is no doubt that the finding are directly linked to what we have learnt in class, for instance importance of internet in collecting large set of data. Lastly the book clearly states that there are instances that the numbers obtained through data analysis are not effective. This is what I will always hold to guide me before arriving at nay decision.
Ayers, Ian. Super crunchers: How thinking by numbers is the new way to be smart. New York: Random House Publishing, 2007. Print.