The Future of Analytics and Operations Research (WINFORMS Panel Discussion)

Program/Title: The Future of Analytics and Operations Research
Organization: Washington, DC Chapter of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (WINFORMS)
Date/Time: Tue February 21, 2012 1800-2030 EST
Description: The exponential explosion in the amount of data available has spawned a new field: “analytics.” This recent arriviste is forcing the operations research (OR) community to reconsider how we work, with both clear benefits and risks – not only in areas like data integrity, but the very foundations of statistical problem-solving. How do we define analytics, and how does analytics relate to OR? What is the future of analytics? We’ll ask these provocative questions and others to three of our best OR intellectuals in the Washington DC area.

General Notes / Topics of Discussion

  • The difference between having an “outcomes focus” versus a “process focus”
  • Scope of similar disciplines – analytics and operations research – are they competing or allied?
  • Communication to decision makers critical – how are these skills being developed in both disciplines?
  • Philosophy of science / having the “soft skills” – is this taught, learned, or experienced?
  • When to shy away from problems – lack of customer support, intended answer, etc.
  • The difference between problems and messes… which is worse?
  • Defining constraints/limitations and discussing assumptions (e.g. acceptable solutions under certain budget constraints)
  • The importance of defining (and redefining) the problem. Critical in today’s business climate.
  • Ideal skills: Hacker skills, subject matter expertise, communication skills, ability to listen, wargaming, organizational psychology, humility, natural curiosity
  • Other related disciplines: Data Science, Statistics, Business Analytics, Big Data, etc. – how do these affect the operations research community?

Further Reading / Related Links