INFORMS NEWS: Putting big data to work

From data-rich to decision-smart: New INFORMS topical conference to focus on the business of big data.

Bill Franks

Huseyin Topaloglu, Ruiwei Jiang, INFORMS President Anne Robinson and Jose Blanchet (l-r).

“Big data” is the latest business buzzword – but what’s missing among the talk and the hype is how a company gets from data discovery to real business value. INFORMS is launching a new topical conference in 2014 that will put the focus squarely on the business of big data – how organizations can transition from just data-rich to decision-smart. The meeting will be held June 22-24 at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, California.

The program is being designed by a committee of practitioners in the data arena (see sidebar), chaired by Margery Connor, senior operations researcher-Advanced Analytics at Chevron, and Diego Klabjan, professor and director of the Master of Science in Analytics Program at Northwestern University. Other committee members are analysts and managers at Dell, IBM, Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC, Intel, SAS, Alcatel-Lucent and UPS.  The committee will invite speakers to address defined topics in an intensive program that is geared to the interests of business decision-makers, IT managers and analytics professionals.

Bill Franks, chief analytics officer at Teradata Corporation, will deliver a keynote address on “Putting Big Data to Work.” At Teradata and throughout his career, Franks has focused on translating complex analytics into terms that business users can understand and then helping organizations implement the results effectively within their processes. His work has spanned clients in a variety of industries, ranging in size from Fortune 100 companies to small non-profit organizations. Franks is author of the book, “Taming The Big Data Tidal Wave” and an active speaker and blogger.

Conference co-chairs, contacts and committee members


  • Margery H. Connor, Senior Operations Researcher, Advanced Analytics, Chevron Corp. (
  • Diego Klabjan, Professor, founding Director, Master of Science in Analytics, Northwestern University (

Committee Members

  • Paul Bachteal, Director, Americas Technology Practice, SAS
  • Donald L. Buckshaw, Chief operations Research Analyst, SAIC
  • Arnold Greenland, IBM Distinguished Engineer, Office of the Public Sector, CTO, IBM Corp.
  • Mani Janakiram, Director, Supply Chain Intelligence & Analytics, Intel
  • Brian Keller, Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Natalie Kortum, Global Decision Sciences Manager, Dell
  • Veena Mendiratta, Practice Leader, Network Reliability and Analytics, Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent
  • Jeff Winters, Operations Research Division Manager, UPS

The conference will be organized around several tracks that focus on business, with success stories and lessons learned on real implementation of big data analytics. Sessions on big data 101 will offer tutorials on how to navigate the big data ecosystem, how to select and use the right technologies, as well as the challenges of building data science teams.  Critical topics such as ethics and privacy requirements will also be addressed.

Case studies of big data projects that illustrate the complete journey from business problem to analytics solution will be a major component of the conference. These sessions will outline key steps such as scoping the problem, infrastructure issues, advanced analysis on the data, visualization and supporting the decision process. One of the conference goals is to help bridge the gap between business decision-makers and analytics professionals as they work together on transforming data into insight and return on investment. Other sessions on the program will look into the future, exploring emerging technologies and business trends.

The conference will be held at the San Jose Convention Center in a new expansion of the building that opened in October 2013. Rooms are being held for conference attendees at the Marriott San Jose, which is connected to the Center.

For continuing updates on INFORMS Big Data, visit: