O.R. and Analytics in the News

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Good Habits Can Instill 'Habits of Virtue'

September 17, 2015

Rules that encourage cooperative behavior lead people to develop altruistic responses even in new contexts, a new Yale-led research found.

This spillover effect suggests it is possible for organizations or even entire cultures to foster “habits of virtue,” said David Rand, assistant professor of psychology and economics at Yale and senior author of the paper appearing in the journal Management Science.

Trust the Process

September 8, 2015

During the recent INFORMS Healthcare conference in Nashville (see sidebar), Mike Fabel, a senior health systems engineer with the Mayo Clinic, and Victoria Jordan, PhD, executive director of Strategic Management and Systems Engineering with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, sat down to discuss their role in the healthcare delivery system.

“I have a manufacturing background,” said Fabel. “We just have a different way of viewing things as far as looking for waste in the process. I think we bring a simplified, team-based effort to looking for waste.”

Fabel added that in his experience, physicians, nurses and other team members have the necessary skills to rethink the status quo but need the guidance, facilitation and tools the engineering department brings to the table to help them map out new solutions.

How Statistics (and O.R) Guided One INFORMS Member Through Cancer - and The Price is Right

How Statistics (and O.R) Guided One INFORMS Member Through Cancer - and The Price is Right

August 12, 2015

...host Drew Carey announced the Kia’s actual price: $16,232. Amid audience cheers, he turned to me and smiled. “Congratulations, Elisa! You just won a new car! You are so lucky!”

Indeed, as I had learned two months earlier, I am exceptionally talented at hitting low probabilities. This episode of “The Price Is Right” was a special aimed at raising breast cancer awareness, and I had just been diagnosed, at 33, with a particularly aggressive type of breast cancer known as triple-negative. Would I survive, and how? Numbers, as usual, contained the answer. While they governed countless choices surrounding surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, they had also just won me a new car.

Why Companies Should Respond When Twitter Rage Spikes

August 12, 2015

A new study finds that once a business responds to a specific grievance on Twitter, it could also open the floodgates to more criticism. But that doesn't mean brands should clam up when an issue arises. Twitter can be a helpful tool for companies hoping to regain the trust of unhappy patrons, and responding to customers on public forums is better than not responding at all. In fact, reaching out can greatly improve the way people think about a company.

"It’s still worthwhile to respond to complaints, because the net effect is still effective. [People] are more likely to complain because they expect the company will help [them] more,” study co-author Liye Ma, a professor at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, told The Huffington Post. 

The study, published in the journal Marketing Science, a branch of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, focused on customers’ perceptions of companies and how the relationship changes over time.

The fierce debate about healthcare analytics and privacy

The fierce debate about healthcare analytics and privacy

August 4, 2015

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.

Cardinals vs. Astros: An Analytics Morality Tale

Cardinals vs. Astros: An Analytics Morality Tale

June 30, 2015

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

June 26, 2015

[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

June 24, 2015

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.

Best and Worst Paying Cities in US for Operations Researchers

May 5, 2015

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)

11 Big Data Certifications That Will Pay Off

April 29, 2015

Certified Analytics Professional -- INFORMS

What it's all about: The CAP certification is a rigorous general analytics certification. It certifies end-to-end understanding of the analytics process, from framing business and analytic problems to acquiring data, methodology, model building, deployment and model lifecycle management. It requires completion of the CAP exam (available at more than 700 Kryterion computer-based testing centers in more than 100 countries) and adherence to the CAP Code of Ethics.

How to prepare: INFORMS provides preview material and a Complete CAP Study Guide as an aid. It also provides free half-day CAP refresher sessions for organizations with 10 or more candidates.

US News: 6 Hot Jobs for MBA Grads Includes O.R.

April 20, 2015

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

April 20, 2015

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.

How Investors Trip Themselves Up

April 17, 2015

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.

Point/Counterpoint on Big Data: INFORMS VP in CNN Online

March 12, 2015

In his CNN opinion piece, "The Big Dangers of Big Data" , Konstantin Kakaes of New America raises some interesting points about the ways that designing certain types of Big Data projects could lead to bad societal results.

Unfortunately, Mr. Kakaes' column appears to be part of a larger narrative that is skewing the perception of the importance of advanced data analytics to economies, societies and families around the world.

Big Data is not merely the accumulation of vast amounts of information, but a collection of interconnected and interrelated data points that, when analyzed carefully, helps business leaders make decisions that lead to increased profitability and job creation, assists doctors and scientists in understanding critical factors about health care, helps policymakers better protect the public from potential terror attacks, and much more.

Marketing Science: Tension between sales and market managers

March 2, 2015

It all starts with the sales rep. He or she is on the front line of the battle for corporate revenue. They also are the first and sometimes last contact point a customer has with the company. So who better than to turn to about advice on said customers, correct, than the sales rep? For that reason, when the sales rep urge headquarters to come down a notch on pricing, their opinion should seriously be considered, right?

Maybe, according to academic research on the subject—but first have the sales reps strenuously argue the case as to why a price should be lowered.

So found a study that ran in the November issue of Marketing Science, a publication of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).

The study, called "Why do sales people spend so much time lobbying for low prices?" was conducted by Duncan Simester, the Nanyang Technological University Professor of Management Science, and Juanjuan Zhang, Associate Professor of Marketing, both at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Looking for Big Pay, Less Stress? OR!

January 16, 2015

Operations research analyst is another high-growth job in the business sector. These data miners can be involved in everything from logistics to manufacturing, looking to enhance a company's profitability and cost efficiency. In 2013, the typical salary was pushing $75,000 annually, but analysts in New York, San Jose and San Diego often earn more than $130,000.

Survey shows most organizations don't have plan in place to assess their analytics maturity

November 13, 2014

According to a new INFORMS survey of 230 business, government and academic representatives released today, the concept of "analytics maturity" is important or very important to their businesses (65 percent). Yet, 82 percent of those same respondents admitted they do not have a plan, model, or any other mechanism in place for measuring the efficacy or maturity of their analytics best practices over time.

Some 47 percent of those surveyed attributed the lack of analytics maturity modeling to the fact they don't believe it will help their businesses thrive, while 21 percent said they cannot afford an analytics maturity model solution.

"The ability to fully assess the maturity level of an organization's analytics best practices is paramount to their efficacy," said Aaron Burciaga, senior manager, operations analytics at Accenture. "With more access to information than ever before, organizations must have a strategy in place for how they leverage data and analytics, and assess the maturity of their programs to empower decision making and drive organizational strategy."

Executive Pay: The final reckoning

October 23, 2014

IN HIS book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, Thomas Piketty argues that it is impossible to find an “objective basis” for the high salaries of senior executives in terms of their individual productivity: they pay themselves such exorbitant sums simply because they can. However, in a forthcoming paper in Management Science, an American journal, two academics claim to have found such an objective measure, and conclude that most bosses are not overpaid.

In their study, Bang Dang Nguyen of the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School and Kasper Meisner Nielsen of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology looked at how firms’ shares react when the chief executive or another prominent manager dies suddenly. They identified 149 cases of this happening at American companies between 1991 and 2008.