Roundtable meeting in Kennebunkport

Instead of the traditional winter retreat, the Roundtable decided to have a summer meeting for 2014 that was held July 20-21 at the Colony Hotel in Kennebunkport, Maine.

The meeting theme was “Running an O.R./Analytics Group” that included presentations from Roundtable members and a survey review of challenges and issues associated with operating a world-class analytics team. Thirty-five Roundtable representatives attended the meeting.

To promote interaction between Roundtable representatives and families, an outing on Sunday afternoon was held that featured a walking tour of old Kennebunkport sponsored by the Kennebunkport Historical Society. The tour featured Kennebunkport history with stops at historical sites and buildings.

The main program started off with keynote speaker Greta Roberts (CEO of Talent Analytics), who discussed results of a major study of analytics professionals who cross many industries, experience and skill levels. Practical insights shared included key best practices, trends and correlations that lend unexpected insight into using analytics to build a strong and scalable analytic team.

Prior to the meeting, a 28-question survey was sent to 59 Roundtable members that covered the following topics: 1. organizing and leveraging O.R./analytics; 2. data, tools and working with IT; and 3. building relationships, recruiting and developing talent.

The survey questions and results were presented in two parts with the intention of generating discussion among members in breakout sessions that focused on questions submitted by Roundtable members. John Ginder led the morning discussion and John Gunckel led the afternoon discussion.

The goal of analytics professionals is to translate models into insights that will be acted upon. David Dittman (Procter & Gamble) led a discussion that focused on approaches to transforming an analytics organization from back-office thought leaders in C-suite ROI generators.

Delivering analytic results requires data and supporting structure from the IT organization. Cenk Tunasar (Booz Allen Hamilton) highlighted the traditional differences and conflicting views of merging IT and analytics. He emphasized the benefits of an iterative development approach to engage analytics, IT and business perspectives.

Obviously, successful analytics are not developed in a vacuum. It takes innovative analytics, clean data and a system of people, processes and tools. Brendt Reif (Con-way Freight) presented a framework Con-way Freight uses to provide thought leadership, design decisions and support tools, as well as keeping the business units engaged.

Many companies have their analytics teams distributed across the organization in order to provide local needs to business units. The distributed approach can make it challenging to share ideas and build relationships among analytics professionals and teams. John Ginder (Ford Motor Co.) presented some of the tools Ford and others have used such as leadership groups, user forums and internal conferences to build cohesion between analytical teams.

Jeff Winters conducted the Roundtable business meeting. The summer meeting concluded with a “Sunset Barbecue” dinner on the Colony Hotel porch that was attended by Roundtable members and guests.