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Data Analysis and Decision Making

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With today’s technology, companies are able to collect tremendous amounts of data with relative ease. Indeed, many companies now have more data than they can handle. However, the data are usually meaningless until they are analyzed for trends, patterns, relationships, and other useful information. This book illustrates in a practical way a variety of methods, from simple to complex, to help you analyze data sets and uncover important information. In many business contexts, data analysis is only the first step in the solution of a problem. Acting on the solution and the information it provides to make good decisions is a critical next step. Therefore, there is a heavy emphasis throughout this book on analytical methods that are useful in decision making. Again, the methods vary considerably, but the objective is always the same—to equip you with decision-making tools that you can apply in your business careers.

We recognize that the majority of students in this type of course are not majoring in a quantitative area. They are typically business majors in finance, marketing, operations management, or some other business discipline who will need to analyze data and make quantitative-based decisions in their jobs. We offer a hands-on, example-based approach and introduce fundamental concepts as they are needed. Our vehicle is spreadsheet software—specifically, Microsoft Excel. This is a package that most students already know and will undoubtedly use in their careers. Our MBA students at Indiana University are so turned on by the required course that is based on this book that almost all of them (mostly finance and marketing majors) take at least one of our follow-up elective courses in spreadsheet modeling. We are convinced that students see value in quantitative analysis when the course is taught in a practical and example-based approach.
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