I’ve probably read five Big Data books. They were all interesting. I learned something new from each of them.

But what I didn’t learn was what to actually do with what I learned.

But now I have.

In Data Driven: How Performance Analytics Delivers Extraordinary Sales Results, Jenny Dearborn, the Senior VP and Chief Learning Officer for SAP, shows how to turn data into insight and insight into action — and the cool thing is she does it within the framework of a fictional story of how a Chief Sales Officer turns a sub-par sales department into a revenue-producing team.

(So if you got a lot out of, say, Goldratt’s The Goal, you’ll also get a lot out of Data Driven.)

As Dearborn says:

Prescriptive analytics is the logical extension of the first three analytics stages: descriptive analytics, diagnostic analytics, and predictive analytics.

Once you understand the deeper processes that underlie your data (descriptive analytics), have a sense of why they are happening (diagnostic analytics), and have predictions about the future (prescriptive analytics), the next step is to act on your knowledge.

That’s where prescriptive analytics comes in. It produces insights and actions intended to improve future outcomes.

So if you’re hoping not just to learn about using the data you have but to actually find ways to improve sales or any other operational area, since most of the principles can be applied broadly, check it out.

Regular readers know I recommend very few books. This is one I recommend highly. Not only is it an easy read, it’s also an easy way to pick up a number of valuable takeaways that can improve your business.

And who can’t use a few more of those?

Published on: Jul 23, 2015
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.