Professor Adrian Wilkinson co-authors book that unpacks the impact of big data analytics on the mobilisation and allocation of individuals, organisations and societies’ resources.

It is well accepted that we live in a ‘digital society’ and that technology is reshaping our economy, culture and lifestyle, including the workplace. Every time we type something into google or click a social media ad, our information is captured and stored, which is what we know today as ‘big data’. Digital society has emerged from and is expected to develop further via digitising, big data, big data analytics, automatically logging almost all human activities and decisions made in information and communication technologies, access to online information in almost real time, artificial intelligence, data-informed decision-making processes and data-driven management.

Since the early 2000s, big data has transformed the way we live, work and consume.  It is defined as a large volume of data (organised or not) that is captured by an organisation on a regular basis. 

 Big data analytics is a source of knowledge that creates significantly new opportunities to mobilise and allocate individuals’, organisations’ and societies’ resources more efficiently. The proponents of big data analytics promise are that it is the key to making the world a better place to live in. Hospitals can treat more patients and better; schools can become more efficient public institutions and pupils can attain greater well-being and higher achievements; big cities can become a better place to live in; green energy can be developed further and become cheaper due to smart logistics, and; public administration can become more customised and efficient.

There is debate, however, on if this prolific data capture and analysis is used for the greater good, or simply profit.

In the book Big Data: Promise, Application and Pitfalls, Professor Wilkinson and contributors assess the ways in which contemporary data processing and analysis has increased efficiency and had a transformative effect on all avenues of life; from energy, tourism and social media, to human resources, welfare systems and urban citizenship.

“At a time when our personal data is more valuable than ever, this book seeks to make sense of how big data analytics has transformed our lives and how it will continue to shape society in the future” says Professor Wilkinson.

Big data has been said to predict the future and solve all problems within any given organisation, and the spread of big data as a commodity is owed to data consultants and pressures on organisations by clients, funders and governments. While there are certainly advantages to utilising big data, there are drawbacks to the technology, with regards to privacy and only the wealthy having access to it.

Co-Author Professor Adrian Wilkinson, Director of the Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing

“In our book, we make a contribution to these debates with research-based chapters from authors from many disciplines, and from across the globe, to provide an evidence base beyond the prescriptions of the guru and consultant tracts. Our authors are experts in their fields and were not chosen because they have a specific stance on big data, but because they provide academic and critical perspectives. Our book is organised in three sections around the Promise, Application, and Pitfalls followed by some reflection on dataism” says Professor Wilkinson.

 “The book is a rich collection of the broader applications of big data to a wide variety of emerging contexts, not only including social media, energy, healthcare, human resources, tourism and smart cities, but also less-examined applications in social and digital welfare, child services, education, and politics. A truly comprehensive guide to ‘big data’!” says Paul A. Pavlou, Temple University, USA. Read more about or purchase Big Data: Promise, Application and Pitfalls here.