New jobs, NFL draft picks and more

Compiled by Barry List

The INFORMS archive of podcasts continues to offer provocative conversation with leading O.R. practitioners and thinkers. The latest podcasts include an interview with Booz Allen Hamilton’s Brian Keller on analytics software, former INFORMS President Don Kleinmuntz on analytics and Obamacare, consultant Carrie Beam on soft skills for lone wolves and Atanu Basu on the five pillars of prescriptive analytics. Visit to download the latest selections.

Visit the INFORMS Newsroom ( 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, recent excerpts from analytics & O.R. in the news:

Market still strong in data, analytics

Big Data – also called data analytics or predictive analytics – is growing fast and generating loads of new jobs. Online help-wanted ads for data analysis mavens have shot up 46 percent since April 2011, and 246 percent since April 2009, to over 31,000 openings now, according to job-market trackers Wanted Analytics. Salaries mentioned in those job ads range from $73,450 to $89,750 ...

Note to students who are trying to choose a college or a major: Have you thought about data science? Carnegie Mellon University and M.I.T. have well-established data science degree programs, as does the University of North Carolina, and many other colleges are adding them. There is also a brand new certification program in Big Data, offered by analytics professional association INFORMS, that is designed to provide a standardized credential in the field.

Fortune, May 10

Analytics, NFL 1st-round picks

Given the high salary that a first-round pick is able to command and the inherent – even wild – uncertainty about what he will really accomplish on the field, Massey and Thaler suspected from the start that first-round picks were overvalued. When they ran the numbers, the problem was even more extreme than they realized. “We had no idea of the magnitude,” Thaler said. “In fact, the magnitude of it is still kind of shocking.”

According to their research, published in March in the journal Management Science, teams significantly overvalue first-round picks, paying too much to draft one player over another. They found that second-round NFL draft picks are, on average, 15 percent more valuable, on the dollar, than first-round selections. And while Massey and Thaler hesitate to assign exact values to exact draft slots – there are simply too many variables in any given draft, they say – some picks early in the second round offer nearly 25% more value.

Boston Globe, May 4

Shortage in analytics talent

Fifty-five percent of big data analytics projects are abandoned.

This surprising finding comes from a recent survey of 300 IT professionals, conducted by a company called InfoChimps.

The most significant challenge with analytics projects, according to the survey? Finding talent. Most (80 percent) of the respondents said that the top two reasons analytics projects fail are that managers lack the right expertise in house to “connect the dots” around data to form appropriate insights, and that projects lack business context around data.

– Sloan Management Review, April 26

Tackling rising healthcare costs with O.R., analytics

A new army is marching into the war against rising healthcare costs: engineer-mathematicians.

These individuals occupy a field called operations research, also known as advanced analytics. A subset is game theory, a way of modeling complex human behaviors and decision-making to produce the best outcomes. Applied to health care, the work includes scheduling operating rooms, setting fees, training technicians and deciding where to build hospitals. ... General Electric Co. now is using a similar technique in India in efforts to help solve that country’s massive health problems. Called Corvix, after one of the moons in Star Trek’s Klingon Empire, GE took publicly available health and population data from the Public Health Foundation of India for the state of Andrha Pradesh in southern India and then installed powerful analytical techniques in the back end with a game-like operating system.

Inside Science, April 15

Teaching bracketology

[Operations research] Professor Michael Magazine is upending the logical world of math with a good dose of March Madness.
Magazine teaches a new class called “bracketology” at University of Cincinnati, the home of the 10th-seeded Bearcats, where 33 business students are spending the semester trying to make sense out of what can feel nonsensical at times  the art of filling out an NCAA tournament bracket.

“The life lesson is that we make a lot of decisions that are the right decisions,”‘ Magazine says, “but the outcomes don’t always come out the way we planned.’”

And that’s why picking the NCAA tournament is so much fun.

Sports Illustrated, March 18

How to win Madness pool

Sheldon H. Jacobson, a professor at the University of Illinois, studies the patterns in which seeds advance every year. He doesn’t care which teams are attached to those seeds. And neither should you. “Risky brackets have too many upsets or not enough upsets,” says Jacobson.

Business Week, March 18

Barry List ( is the director of communications for INFORMS.