1Introduction to Analytics

Philip T. Keenan, Jonathan H. Owen, and Kathryn Schumacher

General Motors, Global Research & Development, Warren, MI, USA

1.1 Introduction

We all want to make a difference. We all want our work to enrich the world. As analytics professionals, we are fortunate–this is our time! We live in a world of pervasive data and ubiquitous, powerful computation. This convergence has inspired new applications and accelerated the development of novel analytic techniques and tools, while breathing new life into decades-old approaches that were previously too data- or computation-intensive to be of practical value. The potential for analytics to have an impact has been a call to action for organizations of all types and sizes. Companies are creating new C-level positions and departments to grow analytic capability. A torrent of new start-ups have formed to sell analytics products and services. Even governments have created new high-profile offices to leverage analytics. These changes have driven a surge in demand for analytics professionals, and universities are creating departments, curricula, and new program offerings to fill the gap.

But what exactly do we mean when we say “analytics”? The term is widely used, but has vastly different meanings to different people and communities. A number of well-established disciplines, including statistics, operations research, economics, computer science, industrial engineering, and mathematics, have some claim to “analytics” ...

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