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In data we trust: Establishing the value of information, big data and analytics

 

SERIES ARTICLE

Advances in Project Management

By Prof Darren Dalcher

Director, National Centre for Project Management
University of Hertfordshire

UK

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Interest in data and its uses has always been central to the various management disciplines and to professionals concerned with decision making capabilities. In recent years the terms big data and analytics have been bandied about as the new trends that will empower organisational intelligence and inform decision making, ultimately resulting in improved performance, optimal use of resources and sustained growth.

Data has proved to an alluring resource over many generations. Indeed, different forms of knowledge have long been equated with wealth and prosperity and it was only natural that the collection of potentially useful facts would be increasingly viewed as an organisational resource, asset, or goldmine ready to be harvested.

Data anxiety

Yet, too much of a good thing can often prove to be harmful or excessive. American novelist Gertrude Stein quipped: “everybody gets so much information all day long, that they lose their common sense”.

The growing availability of data sources means that excessive quantities of information could be collected and harvested, if only one could find the time and inclination to process all the new insights… Terms such as data glut, data smog, data pollution, and data tsunami were coined to express the mounting confusion and frustration with the growing mountains of data and the inability to make sense of important trends through the amassing noise.

Roman stoic philosopher and statesman, Seneca noted that: “Even for studies, where expenditure is most honourable, it is justifiable only so long as it is kept within bounds. What is the use of having countless books and libraries, whose titles their owners can scarcely read through in a whole lifetime? The learner is, not instructed, but burdened by the mass of them, and it is much better to surrender yourself to a few authors than to wander through many.”

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Editor’s note: The PMWJ Advances in Project Management series includes articles by authors of program and project management books published by Gower in the UK. Each month an introduction to the current article is provided by series editor Prof Darren Dalcher, who is also the editor of the Gower Advances in Project Management series of books on new and emerging concepts in PM. Prof Dalcher’s article is an introduction to the invited paper this month in the PMWJ. Information about the Gower series can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/advancesinprojectmanagement.

 

About the Author

pmwj36-Jul2015-Dalcher-PHOTO

Darren Dalcher, PhD

Series Editor
Director, National Centre for Project Management
University of Hertfordshire, UK

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Darren Dalcher
, Ph.D. HonFAPM, FRSA, FBCS, CITP, FCMI is Professor of Project Management at the University of Hertfordshire, and founder and Director of the National Centre for Project Management (NCPM) in the UK. He has been named by the Association for Project Management (APM) as one of the top 10 “movers and shapers” in project management in 2008 and was voted Project Magazine’s “Academic of the Year” for his contribution in “integrating and weaving academic work with practice”. Following industrial and consultancy experience in managing IT projects, Professor Dalcher gained his PhD in Software Engineering from King’s College, University of London.

Professor Dalcher has written over 150 papers and book chapters on project management and software engineering. He is Editor-in-Chief of Software Process Improvement and Practice, an international journal focusing on capability, maturity, growth and improvement. He is the editor of the book series, Advances in Project Management, published by Gower Publishing of a new companion series Fundamentals of Project Management.

Heavily involved in a variety of research projects and subjects, Professor Dalcher has built a reputation as leader and innovator in the areas of practice-based education and reflection in project management. He works with many major industrial and commercial organisations and government bodies in the UK and beyond. He is an Honorary Fellow of the APM, a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, and the Royal Society of Arts, and a Member of the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Academy of Management, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Association for Computing Machinery. He is a Chartered IT Practitioner. He is a Member of the PMI Advisory Board responsible for the prestigious David I. Cleland project management award and of the APM Professional Development Board. Prof Dalcher is an academic advisor for the PM World Journal. He can be contacted at [email protected].

To see other works by Prof Darren Dalcher, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/darren-dalcher/.