INFORMS News: Spring 2017 Roundtable roundup

By Brian Eck

Roundtable breakout session in Las Vegas.

The spring 2017 Roundtable Meeting was held on April 1-2 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The meeting theme was “Roundtable Companies” and featured five talks by member organizations.

The main program began with a presentation by Jeff Arbogast from Air Liquide. The company has special relevance to Las Vegas for its early work in neon lights. Jeff works in computational and data science R&D, and he shared his experiences in real-time optimization of pipelines, vendor-managed inventory, and alarm detection and management, including extensive collaboration with partner universities.

The group then heard from Stefan Karisch, director of analytics at Boeing. He described Boeing’s work with Commercial Aviation Services (CAS), which is responsible for keeping airlines’ fleets flying safely and efficiently.

The third speaker was Jim Williams from Fair Isaac (FICO). Jim described taking a “decisions first” approach (versus data or methods first), which resonated with other Roundtable members. He outlined a case study on helping an automotive financing company deal with delinquencies in the 2008 recession, and he wrapped up by sharing success factors in hiring analytics talent.

The fourth speaker was Cara Curtland from HP Inc., a $48 billion business in personal systems and printing. Cara described the work of the Strategic Planning and Modeling (SPaM) team of analysts in HP, and some recent high impact wins in affecting working capital.

The final speaker was Brian Eck from Google. Brian highlighted ways in which Google culture and context provide fertile ground for advanced analytics. He described examples of how analysts are organized, as well as specific projects within Google, from capacity planning at GFiber to task scheduling for Terra-Bella (earth imaging satellites).

The meeting included a dynamic and extensive discussion, in small breakout groups, of “What Does the Roundtable Think?” While these sessions in the past have focused on one or two areas, this time the group considered several diverse topics, ranging from perceived value of O.R., to training, to how O.R. relates to data science to how member company teams measure success.

Roundtable President-Elect Kathy Lange of SAS conducted a business meeting with 26 member representatives, six alternate member representatives and two member guests.