INFORMS BOARD REPORT

New courses, strategy journal top spring agenda

Barry ListBarry.List@informs.org

Note:
Beginning with this issue, OR/MS Today will provide highlights of the quarterly meetings of the INFORMS Board of Directors.
Two new initiatives presented at the April board meeting in San Antonio, Texas, speak to INFORMS’ progress in analytics and the association’s continued commitment to its operations research and management science programs.

Continuing Education: INFORMS President Anne G. Robinson and the INFORMS board maintain that analytics professionals need the association to create ongoing courses that will provide new and updated skills. Providing analytics professionals with a choice of on-site, in-person courses or online courses will allow potential students to find the right match for them. As part of the board’s strategic planning, an ad hoc Continuing Education Committee is developing analytics-related courses that provide these practitioners with important skills, tools and methods they can use at the job. Two initial workshops are being developed. One, data exploration and visualization, will teach critical steps in the process of analyzing data, accessing and extracting data, cleaning and preparing data, exploring and visualizing data, and popular software tools.

A second course will develop professional skills for analysts. The preliminary content is expected to include modeling & communication for solving business problems; approaching a problem by listening, extracting, defining and framing; data: what is needed, what is available and where it can be located; modeling: selecting, building, trade-offs and precision; testing: what to test and at what level; presenting results to clients, especially to those without analytics training; implementing a plan and its impact on the organization; and assessing a project’s impact.

The committee is chaired by Stephen Powell of Dartmouth College, who works closely with a committee and INFORMS Meetings Director Terry Cryan. Powell introduced the board to Thedra White, who has just become the INFORMS Continuing Education Program manager. Preliminary information is at https://www.informs.org/Build-Your-Career/INFORMS-Continuing-Education.

New journal: Even as INFORMS develops new programs in analytics, it continues to grow its traditional O.R.-related offerings. Witness a proposal for a new journal that was presented by INFORMS Publications Vice President M. Eric Johnson and INFORMS Publications Director Miranda Walker.

Strategy Science is a new journal proposed by the current editor-in-chief of the INFORMS journal Organization Science, Daniel Levinthal of the Wharton School. Introducing it will provide a way that INFORMS can contribute to research and practice in strategy. By publishing a respected journal addressing the interests of this focused area of scholarship, the journal can help INFORMS build a new, vibrant subdivision, as well.

Strategy science touches organizational decision-making, competition within industries and the institutional context in which organizations operate. Harkening back to the spirit of the early days of management science, it is interdisciplinary, touching not only on familiar INFORMS areas like engineering, but also economics, psychology and sociology.

The INFORMS board approved a motion to establish the journal, which will have a three-year probationary period. Professor Levinthal will serve as its first editor and it will be accepting new submissions early next year. Visit http://stratsci.journal.informs.org/ for more information.

Highlights: The INFORMS Board also conferred about these additional important topics:

  • Audit shows good health: At the beginning of every year, INFORMS has its finances reviewed by an auditing firm. Once again, INFORMS received a clean bill of health. In 2012, the association finished the year with a strong $616,000 operating surplus. As of February, the value of the association’s permanent reserve was $7.49 million.
  • INFORMS is moving! Starting July 1, INFORMS’ new address will be 5521 Research Park Dr., Suite 200, Catonsville, MD 21228. The phone number and INFORMS website remain the same.
  • Show others value of analytics career: Have you seen the new INFORMS Web page that lets you explain the value of an analytics career to young people? Visit INFORMS at www.informs.org. Pull down the “Build your career” tab and open the page “Consider an Analytics/OR Career.”
  • Explain analytics: What is analytics and how can you explain it in brief to a newbie? Visit INFORMS at www.informs.org and follow the link from the upper right hand box that features the text, “Learn more: analytics.” The new page is a successor to the Science of Better website.
  • EURO-INFORMS conference: Join INFORMS President Anne G. Robinson and more than 3,000 attendees at the EURO-INFORMS Joint International Meeting in Rome this July. Go to http://euro2013.org/ for more information.
  • Promoting your profession: INFORMS is now working with the public relations firm Scott Communications to bring greater visibility to the contributions of INFORMS members and professionals.
  • More and better social media coming soon: INFORMS’ IT Department, the administration and the board are working on a new social media platform that will allow you to share ideas and documents, do networking and much more. Stay tuned for an announcement soon.
  • Ad Hoc Committee on Education: INFORMS has long had a commitment to improving the educational skills of academics and practitioners alike. Two related board committees are evaluating current offerings and exploring future programs like the continuing education courses mentioned above.
  • New approval process for new INFORMS awards: Proposing a new award? The INFORMS vice president for Membership and Professional Recognition, along with the INFORMS Professional Recognition Committee have instituted improved procedures to move forward award ideas.
  • Free membership in INFORM communities: Already this year 100 new INFORMS members have taken advantage of a program that provides a new subdivision membership to association newcomers.
  • Subdivision retreat: Following the INFORMS winter board meeting, the INFORMS Subdivision Council held its annual retreat, forming committees to promote community value through O.R., enhance the value of subdivision members attending the INFORMS annual meeting and clarifying how the new Analytics Section will interact with other INFORMS communities.
  • Budgeting for 2014: It’s crunch time for the INFORMS board and administration, as the association uses the budgeting process to set priorities for the coming year.
  • Record attendance: The spring 2013 INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics & Operations Research set a record with attendance up 10 percent over last year.