AmbassadORs for operations research and analytics

L. Robin Keller

INFORMS President

L Robin Keller

While planning the ORSA/TIMS merger to form INFORMS, we identified our professional society’s objectives [1]. I focus now on the objective to establish a strong and coherent external image of our field, via increasing the visibility and clout of operations research/management science and fostering professional identities. Twenty years after the 1995 founding of INFORMS, we aim to brand INFORMS as a leader in analytics, with operations research as the core.

I aim to be an ambassadOR for O.R. and analytics, via member outreach and outreach to our profession in general. For example, I pick a monthly article from an INFORMS journal for the new President’s Pick series in INFORMS Connect’s Open Forum [2].

I encourage you to also be an ambassadOR, reaching out to the public via direct interactions, videos, blogs, press releases and publications. Reach out to INFORMS members via INFORMS Connect Communities [3]. For an inspirational outreach example, see the popular Nova episode on “Making Stuff Faster” featuring superb ambassadOR Jack Levis and his operations team at UPS [4].

June 21 is Father’s Day in some countries, so I’d like to share Glenn Wegryn’s blog post last fall [5]. In recapping the San Francisco conference’s panel discussion on O.R. and analytics he said he wanted to: “reinforce that analytics is … a way to frame the conversation with others outside of our profession … P&G ‘re-branded’ operations research as analytics over 30 years ago, for many of the same reasons why INFORMS uses the term ‘analytics’ today – to provide a ‘kinder, gentler’ way to engage decision-makers … Along those lines, I also offer here a simple way to think about that framing … represented in the Analytics Maturity Model as ‘descriptive, predictive and prescriptive.’ I prefer ‘DAD’ – describe, anticipate, decide.”

DAD is an appealing and recallable acronym, and I leave it to readers to coin an analytics phrase with the acronym MOM.

I look forward to reaching out to many of you at our INFORMS International conference with the Canadian O.R. Society in Montreal [6], at the EURO2015 conference [7] in Glasgow, Scotland, and at the INFORMS Healthcare conference [8] in Nashville, Tenn. INFORMS is also co-sponsoring the Singapore World Congress [9] for the Society for Risk Analysis.

Our network of INFORMS members spans about 90 countries, enabling us to spread the visibility and clout of operations research and analytics globally. For example, the recent Edelman competition winner, Syngenta, working on ensuring global food security, is headquartered in Basel, Switzerland [10]. While the bulk of INFORMS’ 11,000 members are North American, there are about 1,250 members in Europe and 950 members from Asia, plus others from Africa, the Australia/New Zealand region, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Middle East. INFORMS has geographical chapters across the globe, from Boston to Beijing, from the Pacific Northwest to Poland, from the Rocky Mountains to Korea, and from Washington, D.C., to Taiwan.

INFORMS staff and officers spend much of their time involved in outreach, such as: 1) the annual convocation of 44 professional engineering societies, sponsored by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the American Association of Engineering Societies, and 2) the council meeting of the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences, an umbrella organization of 17 math societies. Jeff Cohen, the new INFORMS director of Public Affairs & Marketing, welcomes the opportunity to talk with members about new ideas for outreach and ways to help INFORMS succeed. Please feel free to contact him at or on LinkedIn at He looks forward to working with you.

INFORMS Treasurer Sheldon Jacobson and INFORMS Executive Director Melissa Moore attended the public release of the new NAE report on “Making Value for America: Embracing the Future of Manufacturing, Technology and Work” in Washington, D.C. [11]. They encourage you to look at the report and consider how to advance your own work in light of its findings, which placed a strong focus on analytics as a driver for value creation. The report’s objectives were to: 1) examine best practices; 2) identify educational approaches; and 3) provide recommendations to create a favorable environment for effective, fast-paced value creation that will benefit the United States. Many of the report’s findings also apply to other countries.


  1. L. R. Keller & C. W. Kirkwood, 1999, “The Founding of INFORMS: A Decision Analysis Perspective,” Operations Research, Vol. 47, No. 1, pp.16-28.
  2. (see “President’s Picks”).
  3. or
  4. Segment in the PBS Series Nova’s “Making Stuff” (
  10. See page 24 of this issue of OR/MS Today.