Big data and big business: Should statisticians join in?


  • David Walker,

    1. Former director of RSS Getstats. He is a member of the council at the Economic and Social Research Council, where he chairs the Methods and Infrastructure Committee. This article expresses his personal views.
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  • Kaiser Fung

    1. Author of Numbersense: How to Use Big Data to Your Advantage (McGraw-Hill, 2013). He has worked in the web, entertainment, and financial industries.
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Big business has embraced big data with enthusiasm. It is a love-fest; it seems they were made for each other. Should statistics make it a ménage à trois? No, says David Walker: that way lies perdition. Statisticians would lose their souls. Yes, says Kaiser Fung: the happy couple have much to offer statisticians – and will go horribly wrong without them. First, the warning voice …

Kaiser Fung argues that business, big data and statistics should consummate their long-overdue alliance.