INFORMS Initiatives: Innovative apps, video library, skills workshop

2018 IAAA competition accepting entries

Entries are now being accepted for the 2018 Innovative Applications in Analytics Award (IAAA) competition, sponsored by Caterpillar and the Analytics Society of INFORMS. The IAAA provides a forum for enterprising teams and organizations to receive recognition for applications that combine different types of analytics – descriptive, predictive and prescriptive – in creative and unique ways to achieve real-world impact. The award committee is finalizing an opportunity for this year’s best submissions to be published in a special issue of a flagship INFORMS journal.

Apply now and receive the credit you deserve for your innovative analytics application. For more information, contact IAAA committee chair Dr. Juan Jaramillo at

INFORMS Video Library showcases 2017 award finalists

Participants in the 2017 INFORMS Business Analytics Conference in Las Vegas in April had the opportunity to experience real-world case studies of a full spectrum of analytics in action, including the finalists for many of the INFORMS-sponsored awards. For those who missed the award presentations, videos of this year’s award finalists are now available at the INFORMS Video Library (

The 2017 Franz Edelman Award finalists embraced analytics to enhance processes, save money and improve lives in a variety of applications from healthcare to mining operations. Holiday Retirement, winner of the 2017 Franz Edelman Award, leveraged an advanced revenue management algorithm to completely revolutionize the pricing model for its more than 300 senior living communities across the country. For more on this year’s Edelman competition and Holiday Retirement’s award-winning work, see page 20.

Other finalists included:

  • American Red Cross developed a new collection model that increased the amount of donated blood that can be collected and processed.
  • High-tech screen production company Barco used product development platforms to reduce costs and improve its portfolio.
  • As it expanded its mining portfolio, BHP Billiton used a new model to realize millions in additional project value.
  • General Electric partnered with Norfolk Southern Railroad to implement a novel movement-planning algorithm to dispatch trains over a large rail network.
  • The New York City Department of Transportation created a new off-hour deliveries schedule for businesses in the city that improves safety and sustainability.

The Innovative Applications in Analytics Award (IAAA) finalists for 2017 used analytics to create novel solutions that were applied to unique, new areas. The winner of the 2017 award, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., developed new models to provide targeted ad content to viewers.

Other finalists: Construction machinery manufacturer Caterpillar Inc. combined a supply network model with past and present data on dealers, customers and suppliers in order to increase situational awareness of any emerging issues and improve profits. The London School of Economics explored how to revitalize abandoned railway lines and accompanying buildings, applying its findings to recently abandoned railway lines in Northern Italy.

The winner of the 2017 UPS George D. Smith Prize, the U.S. Air Force Academy, was recognized for the unique and exciting opportunities its students have to interact with industry representatives in preparation to become frontline O.R. practitioners as analysts in the Air Force.

Workshop aims to improve your essential soft skills

In Inc. Magazine, Lou Adler wrote that, “People don’t underperform because they lack technical skills. People underperform because they lack soft skills.” Corporations and institutes of higher education tend to focus on teaching, assessing and maintaining technical skills, which are vital. Are “soft skills” any less important?

The Essential Practice Skills for High-Impact Analytics Projects workshop, part of the INFORMS Continuing Education program, is specifically designed to improve “soft skills” for analytics practitioners.

INFORMS will hold its most popular continuing education workshop in Atlanta on June 20-21 at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. The two-day, hands-on course was developed by INFORMS and facilitated by Dr. Patrick Noonan, former assistant dean and director of MBA programs at the Goizueta Business School.

The course will also be offered in September in Washington, D.C., and in October in Houston.

For more information, contact Bill Griffin (

Pro Bono Analytics program accepting volunteers

Make a difference in underserved communities by volunteering your time and talents to the INFORMS Pro Bono Analytics program. Volunteer opportunities are constantly being added. To learn more, visit: