INFORMS in the News

The fierce debate about healthcare analytics and privacy

The fierce debate about healthcare analytics and privacy

Last week, I was a speaker at the Healthcare2015 INFORMS conference in Nashville. I happened to sit in on an interesting panel discussion where there was a lively debate about the use of psychographic data for healthcare analysis.

What took me by surprise was the sharp polarization in the panel around the issue of “creepiness.” One of the panelists, a senior analytics executive from a large hospital system, was vehement in his view that the use of information other than that explicitly covered by data privacy agreements with the patient, amounts to a breach of trust in the hospital-patient relationship, and hence “creepy.” On the other end of the spectrum, a former hospital executive, now an analytics entrepreneur, was of the view that any and all information available, should go into the analysis purely from the point of view of improving the quality of the analysis.

CIO, August 4, 2015

Harnessing Big Data in Montreal

Harnessing Big Data in Montreal

Imagine harnessing all the digital data out there — the zillions of Google searches and smart phone interactions — and then using the real-time information that has become so readily available to optimize services, solve problems and benefit society.

It wouldn’t just be cool — it would be revolutionary.

Well, it’s starting to happen, and a renowned data scientist who is coming to École Polytechnique de Montréal this fall is one of those spearheading the revolution.

[INFORMS member] Andrea Lodi, holder of the new Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in data science for real-time decision-making, hopes to use the $22 million he has been given to set up shop at Polytechnique to help make sense of the explosion of online data and convert it into knowledge that will help organizations and governments make opportune decisions.

Montreal Gazette, July 7, 2015

81% of Enterprises Rely on Analytics for Insights

According to a recent KPMG survey of C-level executives,  92% are using data and analytics to gain greater insights into marketing.72% report their enterprises are regular to heavy users of social media data to improve customer relationships. 81% of enterprises are relying analytics to improve their understanding of customers.

Forbes, July 26, 2015

Is paying for extended warrantees worth it?

Extended warranties, which can also go by the label of “service contracts,” are designed to provide maintenance or repair of products beyond what’s addressed with warranties that are part of the purchase price. Merchants of all sorts have been dangling extended warranties for years, covering everything from a $100 cell phone to a $100,000 automobile.

While the length of extended warranties will differ significantly — Marks said the average term is between three and four years — one thing that’s consistent across the board is their profitability. A recent report by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences found some extended warranties have profit margins in excess of 200 percent.

Deseret News, July 30, 2015

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.

Fast Company, June 26, 2015

Cardinals vs. Astros: An Analytics Morality Tale

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.

Scott Nestler, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 30, 2015

How Much is Your Olympic Reputation Worth?

The ancient Roman philosopher Publius once opined, “A good reputation is more valuable than money.”

Well, new research appearing in this month’s issue of Management Science suggests these words may be as true today as they were two thousand years ago.

Researchers David Waguespack and Robert Salomon examined whether “reputationally-privileged” athletes (that is, athletes who had been successful in previous competitions, or those from countries with a track record of athletic excellence) were more likely to succeed at the Olympic Games than lesser-known athletes.

Psychology Today, July 9, 2015

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.

John Milne and Brian Denton,, June 24, 2015

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.

Product Design & Development, June 19, 2015

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.

NPR, June 12, 2015

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.

US News, June 15, 2015

Best and Worst Paying Cities in US for Operations Researchers

Operations Research Analyst

National median wage: $72,596

Best Cities

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)

Worst Cities

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)

Review Journal, May 4, 2015

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.

New York Times, May 5, 2015

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.

Tech Times, May 27, 2015

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.

Carnegie Mellon University, June 8, 2015

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.

Edward H. Kaplan et al, Ground Up, April 29, 2015

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, 2015

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, March 17, 2015

US News: O.R. Seals the Deal for MBA Grads

First employed by World War II military planners, operations research has become a key tool in the big data age used by companies and other organizations to better allocate resources, develop production schedules, manage supply chains and set prices. It helps transport companies move freight and manage distribution, allows health care systems to improve the collection and processing of patient lab specimens, and lets supermarkets determine how best to organize products, for example.

It used to be that a theme park operator would pair an engineer with a business expert to improve queuing at rides and attractions, notes [INFORMS President] Robin Keller, a professor of operations and decision technologies at the University of California—Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business. Today, that task is handled by a single person trained in operations research.

US News, March 13, 2015

INFORMS Panel: How to Build a Top-Performance Analytics Team and Organization

Harvard Business Review

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.

Click here to watch the video


Barry List
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