2013 – great year for INFORMS, analytics

INFORMS President

Anne Robinson

Anne Robinson

Welcome to 2013! I am grateful to be starting my presidency with such a sense of excitement and energy for analytics in the air. As a society, we finished 2012 with strong financial footing, a re-energized membership base, and with more interest than ever in the people, products and services our organization has to offer.

2013 is destined to be a great year for analytics. The number 2013 itself has some great analytical properties – it is the product of three distinct prime numbers (3 x 11 x 61), has four sequential digits (though not in order, of course!), and is one of only 45 multi-digit numbers that is alliterative – “two thousand thirteen” (in English, at least) [1]. From an INFORMS perspective, 2013 is predicted to be a banner year. We are launching our new certification program, offering INFORMS continuing education courses and introducing an INFORMS analytics maturity model framework, all wrapped around new positioning for the society within the greater analytics community.

The journey for analytics and INFORMS has been an interesting one. What began in 2010 as an enlightening presentation to the INFORMS Board by VP of Practice Jack Levis has blossomed into an analytics movement pervasive across all the dimensions of the society.

Take, for example, the 2013 INFORMS Business Analytics and Operations Research Conference, which will take place this April in San Antonio, Texas. There, for the first time, those who want to demonstrate their analytical expertise can validate their credentials by taking an exam to become a certified analytics professional. As you may be aware, this program has progressed at a rapid pace. INFORMS convened a group of dedicated volunteers to develop eligibility criteria, job tasks, and develop test questions (see “Certified Analytics Professionals” in the October 2012 issue of OR/MS Today).

The INFORMS staff all rallied together to ensure each of their departments were ready for this new offering. In San Antonio, our first candidates will join us for the exam. I look forward to congratulating this inaugural group of certified analytics professionals after the completion of the test. I’m confident that they will appreciate what the exam awards them: With the job market for analytics experts lacking qualified candidates and demanding more and more people to fulfill crucial positions, INFORMS will confirm them as highly qualified people in the profession. I believe there will be competition to hire analytics people who have passed our CAP exam because employers will have confidence that they are hiring the very best.

The conference, itself, is a testament to the evolving relationship between INFORMS and analytics. Once called the practice conference for O.R. professionals, we expanded our scope when we branded the meeting as an analytics conference. Now, with higher attendance than ever, we are seeing experts in descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics from many different disciplines join us, to share experiences, learn best practices and discuss opportunities on the horizon. At this year’s conference, we are seeing topics trending around the latest frontiers in analytics – particularly around Big Data, as well as HR/workforce analytics.

In the year ahead, we are also seeking additional ways of engaging our members and the broader world of analytics experts and newcomers to INFORMS and our analytics offerings. We are in the process of developing an INFORMS analytics maturity model that will allow individuals and companies to measure their organizations’ strengths and needed growth. This model will suggest a course of action that is right for each organization to expand and enrich its analytical capabilities.

INFORMS is developing analytics continuing education courses, both virtual and actual, that will allow those attending to improve their skills and bring them up-to-date as analytics continues to change and grow.

Analytics is all about transforming data into insights. Members of INFORMS are in the best position to do this because we are not only experts in descriptive and predictive analytics, we also have the ability to prescribe, to make recommendations, to plan the future intelligently rather than just forecast it. However, the strength of our community is really our greatest asset.
We are in a unique position and for the first time in a long time, we’re taking the lead. This really is our time to shine.

I hope you’ll join me in this exciting year ahead.