Book Review: Analytics Stories – Using Data to Make Good Things Happen

The book is written by Wayne L. Winston, Professor Emeritus of Decision Sciences at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. Professor Winston also wrote the book Operations Research – Applications and Algorithms, which is one of the most important books within the Operations Research field. He currently teaches Sports Analytics at Indiana University, and has taught analytics to organizations including Microsoft, eBay, Cisco, Deloitte, the U.S. military, Eli Lilly, JP Morgan and more.

As stated by Professor Winston, this book is about analytics. It is not about ‘tedious definitions or detailed mathematical functions‘. It is full of stories showing how analytics is applied to everyday situations. He also states that whether “analyst” is your job title or you just have an interest (professional or otherwise) in sports, politics, health care, business, marketing, finance, or practically any field, this book would allow you to ‘discover how analytics is used to determine what happened, what will happen, why did it happen, and how to make good things happen.

The fifteen chapters that captured my attention out of this book – and the corresponding sections within they are presented – are outlined below:

Part I – What Happened?

  • Was Liverpool over Barcelona the Greatest Upset in Sports History?
  • Measuring Income Inequality with the Gino, Palm, and Atkinson Indices
  • Intergenerational Mobility
  • What’s wrong with the NFL QB Ranking?
  • Some Sports Have All the Luck

Part II – What will Happen?

  • Does a Mutual Fund’s Past Performance Predict Future Performance?
  • Can We Predict Heart Attacks in Real Time?
  • Predicting Game of Thrones TV Ratings

Part III – Why Did It Happened?

  • Do NFL Teams Pass Too Much and Go for It Often Enough on Fourth Down?
  • Why Does the Pareto Principle Explain So Many Things?
  • Does Where You Grow Up Matter?
  • Are Roundabouts a Good Idea?

Part IV – How Do I Make Good Things Happen?

  • How Can We Improve K-12 Education?
  • Can Analytics Save Our Republic?
  • Why Do I Pay Too Much on eBay?

Overall, the book is a discussion of over 60 analytics applications (most successful, some unsuccessful), that enhance the reader’s understanding of analytics. The book also presents a link to a set of Excel files, which allow the reader to understand further the data and examples presented.

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