What a difference a year makes

INFORMS President

Anne Robinson

Twitter: @agrobins

Anne Robinson

It is hard to believe that 2013 has so quickly come to an end. It feels like just yesterday I was sitting down to write my first president’s column (with Peter Horner gently knocking at the door!). It has truly been a fantastic year to be president of INFORMS.

The energy surrounding analytics continues to flourish all around us, from the classroom to the boardroom. According to IDC, investments in analytics hardware, software and services are pacing to exceed $150 billion by 2017. While significant dollars have been spent on analytic platforms and making abundant structured and unstructured data available, organizations are asking themselves, “What now? Where are those golden nuggets?” Companies want to understand how they can transition from being simply data rich to being really data smart! They are realizing more than ever that the competitive advantage lies in predictive and prescriptive analytics capabilities and results. And they need thought leadership and talent to realize these benefits. This is great news for INFORMS, and we are ready to take advantage.

The extensive effort around associating INFORMS with analytics is finally coming to fruition. Considerable developments in relationships with the public press have resulted in articles and mentions in the Wall Street Journal, CIO magazine, Information Week and many other notable media outlets. And reporters are actively reaching out for INFORMS experts on topics ranging from healthcare to retail to disaster avoidance. This exposure is leading to more and more companies turning to INFORMS for help in recruiting and establishing their analytics capabilities.

To that end, we have put a number of programs in place to ride this analytics wave. First of all, based on industry demand, an enormous number of volunteers worked on designing, creating and enabling our new analytics certification program. Thank you for your tremendous efforts. We are now actively bestowing certified analytics professional designations (after successful passing of the exam and associated criteria, of course!). More than 80 people are CAP certified with several hundred more in the pipeline to take the exam.

The initial INFORMS Continuing Education courses launched in the second half of the year. Leveraging the expertise of an adult education professional, INFORMS held two-day intensive courses in Data Exploration & Visualization and in Essential Skills for Analytics Professionals (including tips and tricks for all the soft skills I’ve been professing all year!). Thank you to the volunteers for making this possible. If any of you missed these classes in 2013, I highly recommend that you check them out in 2014. They have value for everyone whether you are a new analyst, a seasoned industry professional or an academic.

New journals, a thriving analytics section, a blossoming of new interest in defining analytics theory, the INFORMS analytics maturity model – these are just a few of the other things that entered our landscape this year.

With 2013 membership numbers topping 11,000 for the first time since the late 1990s, and net revenues tracking at a surplus, this has been a really great year. One of my most memorable moments was when an attendee at the fall conference in Minneapolis approached me and said, “Thank you, you’ve made me proud to be an INFORMS member.”

I would like to thank everyone who helped make this year such a success.

My fellow INFORMS Board members, thank you for your commitment, efforts and perseverance. You are a pleasure to work with.

To the INFORMS staff, thank you for all your help and support. You not only keep us on track but ensure we are continually moving forward as an organization, and you are truly the envy of other professional societies.

I especially want to say thank you to all the volunteers. Without you, INFORMS would not be possible.

And to all you who have mentored, helped and guided me along the way, you know who you are, thank you for everything. It has truly been my honor to represent this organization.

As we look forward to 2014, there are many exciting things to come. In particular, a third strategic goal was added to INFORMS’ overall direction: INFORMS will focus on delivering increased value to our academic members and will seek to further unify INFORMS around the theme of analytics. To do so we will develop analytics programs that address the fundamental reasons that academics affiliate with INFORMS (research, teaching, service, scholarship). Stay tuned for developments (and please reach out if you would like to be involved).

I would like to wish everyone a happy and successful 2014. And to quote Barry List’s podcast signoff, “Keep on crunching those numbers!”