INFORMS Practice Conference to Become INFORMS Analytics Conference

The strategic planning subcommittee of the 2011 INFORMS Practice Conference Organizing Committee has decided to take steps to re-configure and re-brand the Practice Conference to better serve the emerging business analytics field.

Based on an analytics market study commissioned by INFORMS and performed by Capgemini Consulting, it was found that there is an emerging view of business analytics in the business world that is different than the traditional view of operations research in business.

The definition of analytics that emerged from the study is that:

Business analytics facilitates realization of business objectives through reporting of data to analyze trends, creating predictive models for forecasting and optimizing business processes for enhanced performance.

There is also a view that business analytics are “business as usual” with the analytical activities embedded in a multitude of business practices and that operations research is a specialized set of skills that are called upon for complex problems.

The study also contained recommendations regarding products and services that INFORMS could offer to become more in tune with the growing business analytics trend, some of which are a natural fit with the Practice Conference. The recommendations that the Conference strategic planning subcommittee chose to incorporate to enhance the current Practice Conference offerings are:

  • more of a vertical focus to some tracks – including a track concentrating on training
  • an expanded analytics executive program
  • addition of a job fair for professionals
  • case studies in applying analytics
  • a track devoted to the analytics process

With these enhancements planned, it was decided to rebrand the Conference so that it captures the attention of business analysts without losing the support of traditional attendees from the operations research community. So, INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics and Operations Research was born.

The new title includes the key term “business analytics”, of course, but removes the word “practice” since it is more of an inward-looking term and is now covered by the word “business.” “Operations research” was kept because the Conference will in fact continue to report on and showcase all the core competencies of our discipline. It is, after all, a key element of the broader analytics field. Please note we have kept our current tag line “Applying Science to the Art of Business” because it is well liked, well known, and continues to describe the proceedings quite well.

With this strategic change, we now expect to attract a broader analytics audience to the Conference in 2011 while keeping our current attendees happy with a substantial operations research program. Please give us your thoughts on our Practice (or should we say “Analytics”) Conference reconfiguration and rebranding efforts.

Gary Bennett is Director of Marketing and Member Services for INFORMS.

David Leonhardi is a Decision Consultant at Boeing Commercial Airplane Group and this year’s General Chair of the 2011 Analytics Conference Organizing Committee.

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