Chancellor, security certification & more

Compiled by Barry List

INFORMS podcasts continue to offer provocative conversation with leading analytics/O.R. practitioners and thinkers. The latest podcasts include Mark Garratt of in4mation insights on Heineken’s marketing analytics and Ali Ukulu of Capital University on fraudulent returns to retailers. Visit INFORMS Today (formerly the Science of Better) at to download the latest selections.

Visit the INFORMS Newsroom at for news about analytics and INFORMS press releases. Remember to share your news-making research with the INFORMS Communications Department. Contact INFORMS Communications Director Barry List at or 1-800-4INFORMs.

And now, here are excerpts from O.R. and analytics (and INFORMS) in the news:

Analytics, BI programs combine with certification for strong salaries

“Analytics professionals work in many industries,” says Louise Wehrle, certification manager at INFORMS. “We have had candidates from military, from professors of analytics programs, from healthcare, from aerospace and from consulting companies who deliver analytic services to all of the above and more.”

She also notes that college professors often complete the CAP® [INFORMS certification program] so that they can recommend similar programs to their students and ensure their curriculum covers all necessary material.
– Plotting Success, Feb. 12

MIT names former INFORMS president as chancellor

Two longtime members of the faculty – who first arrived at MIT in the early 1980s as graduate students – have been named provost and chancellor, the Institute’s two most senior academic posts...

Reif also announced that Cynthia Barnhart, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering [and former INFORMS president], is MIT’s new chancellor. Barnhart has been associate dean of the School of Engineering since 2007; she served as acting dean of engineering from 2010 to 2011. [For more, see page 53 in this issue of OR/M Today.]
– MIT News, Feb. 3

Math models and national security

If food aid is limited, should 2,000 children each receive a little or should the aid be distributed to a few? [see http://].

Tackling questions such as these has earned [INFORMS member] Lawrence Wein the nickname Dr. Doom. The professor of management science at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business [and former editor in chief of Operations Research] teaches courses on operations, mathematical analysis and inventory and queueing theory. Such theories form the backbone of business operations for companies like McDonald’s, so that it knows how many cashiers and people flipping burgers are needed to serve the lunchtime rush at any given franchise. But the main focus of his research applies these theories to questions of public health and national security.
– Financial Times, Feb. 2

Giving INFORMS analytics students a chance to shine

As I shared a week or so ago, INFORMS, the leading organization for analytics professionals, has a great opportunity for analytics students. It wants to award one student a scholarship to use for attending its upcoming business analytics conference.

If you doubt the value of this opportunity, consider the experience of last year’s scholarship winner, Alex Akulov. I caught up with Akulov the other day to get his advice for potential participants ... and to find out what he’s been up to in the year since winning the 2013 contest.

His advice for students is to participate, and his experience stands as the reason why.
–, Feb. 4

Allanalytics interview with INFORMS President Steve Robinson

Every so often, I get the chance to talk with folks deeply involved with INFORMS, or as it’s formally known, the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences. I find their passion unfailing.

I was reminded of this during a recent phone conversation I had with Stephen Robinson, the organization’s newly announced 2014 president. In a time of such increasing interest in analytics as a career, Robinson stands out as somebody worth emulating.
–, Jan. 29

O.R. No. 2 in US News List of Best Business Jobs

Anne Robinson, director of supply chain strategy and analytics for Verizon Wireless and past president of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, says, in a nutshell, operations research analysts provide the insights for businesses to make decisions at the next level. “This is really decision guidance. Companies are trying to get value out of big data and analytics platforms investments, and they need the right talent to take it from raw data to an intelligent asset for business,” says Robinson, whose focus includes developing models to ensure Verizon stores have enough inventory to meet demand.
– US News & World Report, Jan. 24

O.R. new to US News List

Many of the “best jobs” hadn’t even been on the list in prior years. Among them: nurse practitioner, operations research analyst, information security analyst, nail technician and structural iron and steelworker.
– Benefits Pro, Jan. 23

If you ask the wrong question...

Each of these steps is disruptive to an organization. However, buying software is probably the least disruptive, so that’s where many companies choose to start. Gary Cokins, a veteran in the area of analytics and organizational change [and INFORMS member] says this:

“Organizations seem hesitant to adopt analytics. Is this due to evaluation paralysis or brain freeze? Most organizations make the mistake of believing that applying analytics is 90 percent math and 10 percent organizational change management with employee behavior alteration. In reality it is the other way around; it is more likely 5 percent math and 95 percent about people” (http://
– Chain Store Advisors, Jan. 24

Analytics is top business technology innovation priority

Our benchmark research shows that analytics is the top business technology innovation priority; 39 percent of organizations rank it first. This is no surprise as new information sources and new technologies in data processing, storage, networking, databases and analytic software are combining to offer capabilities for using information never before possible.
– Smart Data Collective, Jan. 23

Analytics growing in natural gas, oil exploration

One IT firm that’s developing big data analytics technology for frackers is Ayata. The company was founded in 2003 as the result of a Canadian research project and set out building “prescriptive” analytics tools that can harness hybrid data sets to generate recommendations. A couple of years ago, the company realized that its technology could be applied to the burgeoning world of fracking, according to Ayata CEO [and INFORMS member] Atanu Basu. [For more on Ayata, fracking and analytics in the oilfield, see the March/April 2014 issue of Analytics magazine (]
– Datanami, Jan. 22

Math model for surviving a nuclear attack. Early flight?

“I disagree with the conclusions,” says [INFORMS member] Lawrence Wein, an operations research scientist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. “He fails to account for several important issues that are vitally important for policy recommendations.” Anyone heading out into the apocalyptic wasteland will have no idea how long the transit time will really be. Because of this uncertainty, he says, the official U.S. government recommendation is “to shelter for at least 12 hours” after the blast.

Wein also worries about “the collective behavior problem.” In the wake of the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster, a few thousand people were told to evacuate and nearly 200,000 people took to the streets. “The model is assuming that you have each person on puppet strings and can dictate their actions. This is simply not going to be the case in the aftermath.”
– Science Magazine, Jan. 14

Inspirations leaders counteract employee cynicism, says OrgSci study

The antidote to employee cynicism is an inspirational leader, according to a recent study.

This is important to know, considering cynicism makes people resistant to change, noted researchers from University of Toronto, the University of Buffalo and George Mason University. However, having a leader who is able to inspire confidence in employees can spur welcoming feelings toward change.

The study, which was published last year in the [INFORMS] journal Organization Science but only publicized now, was conducted in a unique set: correctional officers.
– Huffington Post, Jan. 15

Hang up or hold on? Queueing and customer patience

Press “1” if you’re tired of being on hold! Nobody likes to wait, but since customer service can’t be packaged to sit on a shelf ready when we need it, everybody has to “get in line” for help from banks, credit card companies, stores, healthcare or tech support. These days, that usually means dialing a call center somewhere in the world, which makes understanding caller patience increasingly important. A recent study, co-authored by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business professors Baris Ata and Che-Lin Su, and published in the [INFORMS] journal Management Science, offers a more accurate approach to modeling caller patience than ever before, which could help call centers reduce customer waiting time on hold while helping businesses too. ORMS
– esciencenews, Jan. 13

Barry List ( is the INFORMS director of communications.