INFORMS in the News
Cardinals vs. Astros: An Analytics Morality Tale
As Post-Dispatch baseball writer Derrick Goold aptly reported in coverage of FBI allegations about the St. Louis Cardinals hacking scouting reports of the Houston Astros, this baseball drama contains a story about the increasingly competitive world of sports analytics. It is also a wake-up call for analytics professionals and other business leaders, not just in professional sports but across numerous industries, who have a vested interest in ensuring that this growing technical field adheres to stringent ethical guidelines and professional standards.
ManSci study: It's OK for male execs to ask directions and business advice
[University of Pittsburgh Prof. Dave] Lebel says research has found that it can be easier to ask for help when you turn it into advice seeking. In a study published in the June 2015 issue of Management Science, researchers from Harvard Business School and Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found that advice-seeking differs from other help-seeking behaviors because you’re eliciting information for a course of action, retaining the decision-making process, and implying that the values of the advice seeker is similar to the adviser.
"Asking for a recommendation can feel flattering to the other person," says Lebel.
Your Guide to Analytics Patents
Analytics may be a young profession but it is taking off, and its growth is evident in the rapid increase in analytics patents that have been granted by the U.S. Patent Office. As an analytics professional, you may find that patents play an important part in your life -- the 40-plus patents that we co-invented at IBM were front and center for us.
Knowing the patenting process can be important for you and your company’s success, protecting your most valuable work. And if you want to learn about advanced analytics, the patent literature is an important source of information.
In a study we wrote with Troy White of Clarkson University that has just been published in the INFORMS journal Interfaces, we examined keywords relevant to descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics found in U.S. patents that were issued between 2002 and 2013.
Brands, Patents Protect Companies from Bankruptcy
If a firm faces troubled times during a stable market, strong advertising can carry it through. But when the market is turbulent, a firm's Research and Development is more likely to help save it from bankruptcy. A new study published in the Articles in Advance section of Marketing Science, a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), shows that "intangible assets" built with advertising (such as brands) and R&D (such as patents) can help protect firms from bankruptcy, but the effectiveness of each depends on the market climate.
The study, The Impacts of Advertising Assets and R&D Assets on Reducing Bankruptcy Risk by Niket Jindal of Indiana University's Kelley School of Business and Leigh McAlister of the University of Texas's McCombs School of Business, is based on data from more than 1,000 firms covering three decades.
Nobel Winner Roth on Kidney Exchanges and His OR Background
Practically, I was trained as an engineer. My degrees are all in operations research, not in economics. I gravitated to economics because I'm interested in how people coordinate and collaborate with each other. Economics studies all the ways people get along with each other.
How job stress might be killing you - and what you can do about it
Job stress is also tied to hypertension, obesity and even depression. Any one of these factors makes life more difficult and can even increase your risk of death. A study published in March in the journal Management Science looked at the effect of 10 sources of stress in the workplace and found that all of them contribute to increased health care spending among workers, and many to an increased risk of death. These workplace stressors, which have been linked to cardiovascular disease and poor mental health, are responsible for more deaths annually than diabetes, Alzheimer’s or the flu, according to the researchers.
Best and Worst Paying Cities in US for Operations Researchers
Operations Research Analyst
National median wage: $72,596
5. Baltimore, MD ($97,750)
4. Washington, DC ($106,960)
3. Virginia Beach, VA ($93,620)
2. San Diego, CA ($104,880)
1. San Jose, CA ($117,530)
5. Tampa, FL ($52,830)
4. Jacksonville, FL ($53,210)
3. Miami, FL ($52,870)
2. Tallahassee, FL ($43,440)
1. Baton Rouge, LA ($40,800)
OrgSci study: How some men fake an 80-hr work week
Imagine an elite professional services firm with a high-performing, workaholic culture. Everyone is expected to turn on a dime to serve a client, travel at a moment’s notice, and be available pretty much every evening and weekend. It can make for a grueling work life, but at the highest levels of accounting, law, investment banking and consulting firms, it is just the way things are.
Except for one dirty little secret: Some of the people ostensibly turning in those 80- or 90-hour workweeks, particularly men, may just be faking it.
Many of them were, at least, at one elite consulting firm studied by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. It’s impossible to know if what she learned at that unidentified consulting firm applies across the world of work more broadly. But her research, published in the academic journal Organization Science, offers a way to understand how the professional world differs between men and women, and some of the ways a hard-charging culture that emphasizes long hours above all can make some companies worse off.
His Legacy: The Nash Equilibrium
In 2009, a global pandemic of H1N1 influenza, or swine flu, broke out. Vaccines were in short supply, raising concerns that governments of wealthier countries would buy up so much of the supply that poorer countries would be left without enough. Using the Nash equilibrium and related concepts in game theory, researchers determined that under some conditions it would actually be in the wealthier countries' best interest to give their vaccine supplies to countries that do not have enough. This can help prevent the spread of the epidemic, according to the paper published in Operations Research in 2009.
The Bias Blind Spot
It has been well established that people have a “bias blind spot,” meaning that they are less likely to detect bias in themselves than others. However, how blind we are to our own actual degree of bias, and how many of us think we are less biased than others have been less clear.
Published in Management Science, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, the City University London, Boston University and the University of Colorado, Boulder, have developed a tool to measure the bias blind spot, and revealed that believing you are less biased than your peers has detrimental consequences on judgments and behaviors, such as accurately judging whether advice is useful.
INFORMS' Pres Elect Kaplan: Simple Measure Can Reduce Sexual Assault in S. Africa
Access to toilets for the hundreds of thousands of people in urban settlements is both a public health and moral imperative, critical for avoiding diarrheal and other diseases associated with substandard sanitation and to support the basic human dignity of citizens.
Women with the Social Justice Coalition have also pointed out the special risk that inadequate sanitation facilities poses for them on a daily basis; that of sexual violence they have encountered en route to the toilets particularly during the evening, nighttime and early morning hours when most people are indoors and they must travel alone to relieve themselves. This phenomenon has been described elsewhere, most recently in a report by Amnesty International in Kenya in a 2010 report called Risking Rape to Reach a Toilet and is not limited to South Africa.
As academic researchers we were interested in examining the economic implications of the insights of the women of Khayelitsha. To this end, we developed a mathematical model to look at the link between sanitation and sexual violence in the township, as well as the costs of sexual violence and the expansion of new sanitation facilities there.
Our model, just published today (29 April) in PLoS ONE [a reputable science journal - editor], is quite basic, where a woman’s risk of rape is tied to what we call exposure time, the number of minutes she must be out of doors en route to a toilet each day.
US News Gives Top Rankings to Field of Operations Research
In 2015, US News ranked "operations research analyst" as
#4 Best Business Jobs
#8 Best STEM Jobs
#20 Hundred Best Jobs
US News: 6 Hot Jobs for MBA Grads Includes O.R.
Graduate school isn't like undergrad when, in theory, you could take a year or two to choose a major and poke around different career paths. The process moves a little faster as an MBA student. You don't need to set your target job in stone, but you should have a solid idea or two in mind, so you're ready to make the most of your courses – as well as networking and recruitment opportunities.
The following jobs are well-suited for MBA graduates, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts hiring growth and solid salaries for each of them.
6. Operations research analyst: These analysts use statistics to identify and troubleshoot problems usually relating to production, logistics and sales. It’s possible to find an entry-level position with just a bachelor’s degree, but higher-level operations research analysts usually have an MBA with a specialization in production and operations management. Consider top schools, such as the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at University of Michigan—Ann Arbor.
US News: O.R. Seals the Deal for MBA Grads
Electrical engineer Ajay Mehta was working at Union Pacific Railroad in Houston, overseeing two dozen employees charged with testing, installing and maintaining the signal and road-crossing systems, when he decided to get an MBA to broaden his perspective and choices.
Armed with a business degree focused on operations research from Boston University School of Management – class of 2012 – Mehta today works for Ericsson Consulting in Dallas, helping a range of businesses solve problems and make decisions.
The MBA grounded Mehta in business analytics, which entails mining data and using statistical modeling to inform strategic decisions. He relies on both to craft the best software and infrastructure solutions for clients to help them increase revenue. While data analytics in the business arena is often associated with tracking customer behavior and improving marketing approaches, "operations is the part of the business where the work actually gets done," Mehta says.
INFORMS Panel: How to Build a Top-Performance Analytics Team and Organization
Moderated by Harvard Business Review Editor at Large Julia Kirby
April 13, 2015 | INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics & Operations Research
The panel gathered industry leaders for a discussion on what’s top of mind for the business of analytics, specifically how to build and retain a top analytics team. The panel included leaders from Chevron, FICO, Gartner, IBM, and Schneider National.
Stolen Data Worth Less Over Time
A new model examining cyber crimes adds an important way of examining the perishable value of stolen data so policy makers can plan against future hacks like the recent Anthem data breach, according to a study in the Articles in Advance section of Service Science, a journal published by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).
INFORMS is a leading professional association for professionals in advanced analytics.
"A Multiproduct Network Economic Model of Cybercrime in Financial Services" is by Anna Nagurney, the John F. Smith Memorial Professor of Operations Management at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Nagurney is an INFORMS Fellow. It describes a computer-based model that captures the network economics of cybercrime activity and permits the policy evaluation of interventions.
A novel feature of the model is its inclusion of the critical time element and perishability of stolen cyber financial products with, as in the case of fresh produce, the value (and, hence, the black market price) decreasing over time. It also identifies different demand prices for different financial products, with certain credit cards being more valuable because of credit limit, expiration date, and continent of origin.
How Investors Trip Themselves Up
Parent trap. A third study found that investors put more money into mutual funds when the share price of the fund’s parent company is outperforming the market than they put into mutual funds run by companies whose share prices are lagging behind.
For most of the companies in the study, running mutual funds was a relatively minor source of revenue. That suggests that the inflow of investor money wasn’t driving the parent company’s share price, according to Clemens Sialm, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who co-wrote the study—which also included fund firms such as T. Rowe Price Group and Janus Capital Group.
The study, which didn’t include companies whose shares aren’t publicly traded, such as Vanguard Group and Fidelity Investments, is due to be published in Management Science, another peer-reviewed journal.
Science behind price of your camera
Pricing strategies exploiting demand with a high price – skimming – or tempting consumers with a low one – penetration – are not as popular as marketers assume, according to new research.
An international study has found that in the pricing of new digital camera models, penetration and skimming strategies were each used for just 20 per cent of products.
Strategists have long recommended that marketers use either "skimming" or "penetration" strategies when pricing new products. A skimming strategy involves setting the price for a new or improved product relatively high, to exploit consumer demand for the product and therefore their willingness to pay – for an Apple iPhone, for instance.
A penetration strategy involves selling low – even below cost – with the aim of capturing a large slice of the market early on, eventually reaping profits from economies of scale, perhaps with a price increase later.
Marketers have long assumed that firms adopted one or other of these two strategies when pricing new products, says Associate Professor Marc Fischer of UTS Business School.
However, a study of the pricing of new digital camera models has found that penetration and skimming strategies were each used for just 20 per cent of products. Straightforward competitive or market pricing strategies were used for the remaining 60 per cent.
The study was conducted by Associate Professor Fischer, Professor Martin Spann of Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, and Professor Gerard J. Tellis, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, and has just been published in Marketing Science journal.
Sustaining an Analytics Advantage
The use of analytics is increasingly commonplace in business — and as a result, it’s hard to gain a lasting competitive advantage from analytics. Nonetheless, there are companies that have done just that over time.
INFORMS Journal Cited in US Supreme Court Amicus Brief
Obergefell v. Hodges, which will bring issues related to same sex marriage before the US Supreme Court, includes a reference to Diversity and Performance by Feng Li and Venky Nagar, published in Management Science. Learn more about the case at SCOTUS Blog.