Skip to Content

Darla Moore School of Business

New management science faculty’s book offers practical instructions for utilizing data science to inform decision-making

Moore School management science clinical associate professor Leslie Hendrix has recently published a new book entitled “Modern Business Analytics: Practical Data Science for Decision-Making."

Hendrix has spent 17 years at USC and is currently in her fifth year with the Moore School. She was formerly an instructor in the Department of Statistics in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Hendrix worked on the project with first author Matt Taddy, an economist and statistician who is the vice president of Amazon Private Brands, and Matt Harding, a professor of economics and statistics at the University of California Irvine.

“The author team was chosen carefully to represent three important facets to discuss the topics covered — practicing in industry, research and teaching,” Hendrix said. “We each bring something to the table in these areas to create this first of its kind textbook.”

The purpose of the book is to give a data science approach to analytics, said Hendrix. She said it is a primer for these skills that enable the reader to make data-driven decisions.

“This book pulls from machine learning, economics and statistics,” she said. “It aims to give a comprehensive but friendly treatment to these topics.”

Hendrix also says this book is tailored toward students in undergraduate, MBA and data science programs or for those who are just reading to attain the skills outlined within the text.

“The target audience is anyone who wants these skills for modern large-scale data analysis — not just those in ‘business’,” she said.

According to Hendrix, business analytics textbooks can vary in topics because of the broad definition of the subject. She says this book aims to introduce more modern approaches to business analytics like the use of code-script languages.

“Analysts these days will need to learn a flexible scripting language, such as R or Python and be able to apply methods of data analysis for big data with scripts that can automate as much of the process as possible,” Hendrix said. “This book aims to give these tools to the reader.”

The textbook’s lengthy coverage of the code script language R and real-world business problems make it unlike any other business analytics book, said Hendrix.

“A big difference between our book and others is that we give an almost 40-page R primer that prepares the reader for the scripts used in the text, and we also give examples with actual business problems, including insights that come from domain knowledge,” she said. “Most examples are from business and economics, assuming the analyst will work for a company, but we cover examples from health care and others as well.”

Creating this book did come with some obstacles, Hendrix added. The most challenging aspect was writing the first draft of the book for a course that may not yet exist at some universities, she said.

“This is not a standard, run-of-the-mill textbook for the standard run-of-the-mill course that’s been offered for decades,” she said. “It’s cutting edge, and that’s why we call it ‘Modern Business Analytics.’  We worked very hard to make sure it was interesting to read and has actual examples our readers might face in their future jobs.”

There are books on the market for data science  and books for business analytics, and these books stay in these disciplines with limited examples from the other side.  This author team worked hard to cross these boundaries and created something truly interdisciplinary, she added. 

-James Culbertson

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.