Board urged to deliver analytics-based value to academics

By Barry List

Speaking in his final presentation to a body that he has helped lead for years, INFORMS Past President Terry Harrison told the INFORMS Board this October that a survey of INFORMS members identified the relationship between academics and analytics as a beneficial direction for the board and INFORMS.

Speaking during the INFORMS Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, he recommended that the board set as a strategic goal the strengthening of this relationship. The board passed a motion adopting Harrison’s recommendation.

“We should focus on delivering increased value to our academic members and seek to further unify INFORMS around the theme of analytics,” Harrison wrote in an accompanying report. “To do so we must develop programs that address the fundamental reasons that academics affiliate with INFORMS.”

A survey of INFORMS members this summer showed that 23 percent of members strongly agree and 40 percent of members agree that INFORMS should focus on providing analytics-based value to academic members.

The INFORMS membership survey that Harrison cited was conducted by the INFORMS Marketing Department as a successor to one created two years ago by two Villanova analytics researchers, Matthew J. Liberatore and Wenhong Luo. Reviewing the survey highlights at the board meeting, INFORMS Marketing Director Gary Bennett said that the new survey showed growing acceptance of INFORMS’ analytics initiatives.

In 2011, the membership survey showed INFORMS members almost evenly split when asked about the connection between operations research and analytics, with 28 percent saying that advanced analytics is the intersection between analytics and O.R.; 29 percent saying that O.R. is a subset of analytics; and 30 percent saying that analytics is a subset of O.R.

That profile changed dramatically this year, with 48 percent agreeing that analytics and O.R. are two separate fields with significant overlap, and fewer than 25 percent each saying that O.R. is a subset of analytics or that analytics is a subset of O.R.

The survey showed increased awareness of analytics and increased support for INFORMS’ efforts to become a leader in the field. Some 76 percent expressed familiarity with analytics in the new survey, up from 63 percent in 2011. And 62 percent of members agreed that analytics increases awareness of O.R. Some 76 percent of respondents this year agreed that INFORMS expanding into analytics is enhancing INFORMS’ ability in advancing the goal of improving decision-making in organizations. And responding to a new question for 2013, 73 percent agree that INFORMS expanding into analytics is helping the association attract new members.

The overall agreement with INFORMS’ expansion into analytics was 78 percent.

Additional highlights of the INFORMS Fall Board Meeting were the following:

  • Initiative funding: The board approved $285,000 for new initiatives that will increase the benefits of INFORMS membership through programs like the new continuing education program and an INFORMS Analytics Maturity Model.
  • Saul Gass remembered: The beloved INFORMS mentor, who died earlier this year, was memorialized with the renaming of the INFORMS Expository Writing Prize in his honor.
  • IT: INFORMS IT vice president and director announced that the association will debut a new social networking collaboration community in early 2014. To improve INFORMS’ ability to analyze internal data, they are beginning to examine consultants and vendors who can help develop an INFORMS data mart/warehouse.
  • State of the Association: INFORMS Executive Director Melissa Moore’s review of the association showed continued growth and progress realizing the association’s existing strategic goals of recognizing INFORMS as the leading association in advanced analytics and updating online systems that improve members’ experience and ability to collaborate.
  • Consultant database revised: INFORMS Vice President Andy Boyd announced that INFORMS has revised a webpage that allows INFORMS members who are consultants to list their businesses on INFORMS Online and gain access to potential clients.
  • Editors-in-chief: INFORMS Vice President Eric Johnson announced the appointment of Zur Shapira as EIC of Organization Science, succeeding Daniel Levinthal, who will become the EIC of the new INFORMS journal Strategy Science. Ritu Agarwal was named to a second term as EIC of Information Systems Research.

Barry List ( is the director of communications for INFORMS.