Data analysis and knowledge management
“The term data analysis has long been synonymous with the term statistics, but in today’s world, with massive amounts of data available in business andmany other fields such as health and science, data analysis goes beyond themore narrowly focused area of traditional statistics. But regardless of what we call it, data analysis is currently a hot topic and promises to get even hotter in the future.The data analysis skills you learn here, …, might just land you a very interesting and lucrative job.”
“Information volumes are increasing relentlessly. Estimates from researchers at theSchool of Information Management and Systems, University of California, Berkeley (Lyman and Varian, 2003) suggest an increase of 30 per cent per year. The volume of new information created each year is staggering, the same researchers estimate that 800 megabytes of recorded information is produced for each man, woman and child on Earth. In a more understandable context it would take about 30 feet of books to store the equivalent information for each person on paper.
As information volumes increase, so do the challenges of managing the information and trying to find value in it. Some of the challenges of managing such huge volumes of information, increasing at this rate, are:
■ Relevancy – How do we find information relevant to our decisions?
■ Accessibility – How do organizations make relevant information available to employees and business partners through computer applications, web and email? How is the knowledge used to apply information captured and shared between employees?
■ Legality – How do organizations ensure they are using customer, employee and market information in accordance with legal and ethical standards?
■ Security – How do we protect this information from accidental or deliberate threats?
■ Value – How can this information help organizations reach their business objectives?”
“When interviewing potential employees, business firms often look for new hires who know how to use information systems and technologies for achieving bottom-line business results. Regardless of whether a student is an accounting, finance, management, operations management, marketing, or information systems major, the knowledge and information found in this book will be valuable throughout a business career.”
“Mispredictions by IT Industry Leaders:
This “telephone” has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.
—Western Union internal memo, 1876
I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.
—Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943
But what [is a microchip] good for?
Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968
There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.
—Ken Olson, President, Chairman, and Founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
640K ought to be enough for anybody.
—Attributed to Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft, 1981.”
“HOW CREATIVE ARE YOU? How creative are the people you work with? How about your friends? Next time you are at a social event, ask them. You may be surprised by what they say. I have worked with people and organizations all over the world. Everywhere I go, I find the same paradox. Most children think they’re highly creative; most adults think they’re not. This is a bigger issue than it may seem.
CREATING THE FUTURE
We are living in a world that is changing faster than ever and facing challenges that are unprecedented. How the complexities of the future will play out in practice is all but unknowable. Cultural change is never linear and rarely predictable. If it were, the legions of media pundits and cultural forecasters would be redundant. It was probably with these dynamics in mind that the economist J.K. Galbraith said, “The primary purpose of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.”
As the world spins faster and faster, organizations everywhere say they need people who can think creatively, communicate and work in teams: people who are flexible and quick to adapt. Too often they say they can’t find them.
Why not? My aim in this book is to answer three questions for anyone with a serious interest in creativity and innovation, or in simply understanding their own creative potential.
- Why is it essential to promote creativity? Business leaders, politicians and educators emphasize the vital importance of promoting creativity and innovation. Why does this matter so much?
- What is the problem? Why do people need help to be creative? Young children are buzzing with ideas. What happens as we grow up to make us think we are not creative?
- What is involved? What is creativity? Is everyone creative or just a select few? Can creativity be developed and, if so, how?
Everyone occasionally has new ideas, but how can creativity be encouraged as a regular and reliable part of everyday life? If you are running a company or an organization or a school, how do you make creativity systematic and routine? How do you lead a culture of innovation?
To answer these questions it is important to be clear about what creativity is and how it works in practice. There are three related ideas, which I will elaborate as we go on. They are imagination, which is the process of bringing to mind things that are not present to our senses; creativity, which is the process of developing original ideas that have value, and innovation, which is the process of putting new ideas into practice.”
“British mathematician Irvin J. Good, a colleague of Alan Turing’s, wrote in 1965 that “the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make.” He defined such a machine as one that could surpass the “intellectual activities of any man however clever” and concluded that “since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an ‘intelligence explosion.’”
The last invention that biological evolution needed to make—the neocortex—is inevitably leading to the last invention that humanity needs to make—truly intelligent machines—and the design of one is inspiring the other. Biological evolution is continuing but technological evolution is moving a million times faster than the former. According to the law of accelerating returns, by the end of this century we will be able to create computation at the limits of what is possible, based on the laws of physics as applied to computation.5 We call matter and energy organized in this way “computronium,” which is vastly more powerful pound per pound than the human brain. It will not just be raw computation but will be infused with intelligent algorithms constituting all of human-machine knowledge. Over time we will convert much of the mass and energy in our tiny corner of the galaxy that is suitable for this purpose to computronium. Then, to keep the law of accelerating returns going, we will need to spread out to the rest of the galaxy and universe.”