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Analytics Magazine

Best Practices: Unleash the Power of Analytics

Spring 2009

INFORMS Practice Conference set for April 26-28 in Phoenix.

INFORMS Practice ConferenceDeploying the power of analytics for competitive advantage is the focus of the INFORMS conference, Applying Science to the Art of Business, set for April 26-28 in Phoenix, Ariz. Leading companies will share their analytics best practices in presentations by executives from Southwest Airlines, McDonald’s, HP, American Express, IBM, Merck and many more. Prominent academics from universities such as MIT Sloan School, Stanford, Arizona State, Northwestern, UC-Irvine and others will provide training on strategy and O.R. methodologies.

This intensive, applications-focused conference has become known for high-quality talks, structured networking opportunities, innovative programs for young professionals and graduate students, and in-depth methodology and software training. This year, the meeting will be preceded by the INFORMS Western Regional Conference at Arizona State University on April 24-25, making it convenient for participants to take advantage of both events.

Showcasing High-impact Analytics

The “Power of Analytics” theme is illustrated each year in the prestigious Edelman Award Competition. This year six finalists will showcase analytics projects that had major impacts on their client organizations (see accompanying story). The 2009 winner will be announced at a gala awards ceremony and banquet, and the winner will reprise their presentation in a plenary session the next day. Admission to the banquet is included in the conference registration fee. Two other prestigious awards will be announced at the gala: the INFORMS Prize, awarded to a company that effectively integrates analytics into organizational decision-making; and the Daniel H. Wagner Prize, recognizing the quality and coherence of analysis used in practice.

Two visionary business leaders will deliver keynote addresses: Pierre Haren, co-founder and CEO of ILOG, and Thornton May, a noted futurist and dean of the IT Leadership Academy. Haren, a key figure in the European technology community with a background at France’s preeminent IT research institute, INRIA, will offer a perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing today’s analytics world. May will bring his insight to the intersection of analytics and IT with a talk on “Tribal Collisions in Decision Space.”

2009 INFORMS Conference

More than 80 Real-world Sessions

The conference program, incorporating 80-plus sessions, has been designed by a 24-member council of practitioners and academics, chaired by Zahir Balaporia, director of Decision Engineering at Schneider National (see speaker list in accompanying story). Most talks will be delivered by invited speakers, all of whom were selected to address specific topics defined by the council. Additional presentations were identified through a rigorous review process. “Our goal was to put together a cohesive program that emphasizes real-world applications across the scope of O.R. work, along with skill-building tutorials, software training and exceptional networking,” says Balaporia.

A new INFORMS initiative around credentialing will be the topic of a special panel discussion during the conference. An INFORMS committee is exploring requirements of a combination of training, education and experience that could certify an individual as an O.R. professional, with the ability to perform analytics activity in the work environment. Attendees will have an opportunity to provide their input and ideas as this initiative is explored.

Highly-rated Special Programs

While the conference formally kicks off with a Welcome Reception on Sunday evening, April 26, this entire “pre-conference” day is packed with valuable learning opportunities. Attendees can take advantage of in-depth technology workshops presented by software solutions companies, as well as a special workshop on “soft skills.” Introduced last year to outstanding reviews, the Soft-Skills Workshop provides a half-day or full-day training in working successfully with business decision-makers and the people who implement analytics solutions.

Two special programs within the conference are designed for future analytics leaders. The Young Practitioner Connection, for junior faculty and young industry practitioners, provides participants with insights into the critical business problems facing industry, helping them to broaden their research agendas and providing important networking contacts. The INFORMS Professional Colloquium offers an intensive day of real-world career guidance for graduate students interested in practice careers. The Colloquium will be held on Sunday, April 26, and students will then stay for the rest of the conference.

Participants for both programs receive a discounted registration rate of $355, and must be nominated and selected to attend. The nomination deadline is March 1.

2009 INFORMS Conference

Register Early for Best Rates

The early registration rate of $870-members, $970-nonmembers is available until April 6. Rates increase by $100 after April 6. Companies can take advantage of a team discount rate of $715 (by April 6) when they send three or more attendees to the conference. All social functions and meals (breakfasts, lunches, breaks, the Sunday evening reception and the Edelman banquet) are included in the registration fee.

The meeting location, the Sheraton Downtown Phoenix, is a brand-new, luxury hotel located right in the heart of the revitalized downtown. The special INFORMS room rate is $189 single/ double; reserve before the cut-off date of March 24.

For continuing updates and to register, go to:; 800-343-0062 or 401-722-2595;

Edelman Competition & Awards Gala

Six finalists will compete for the top prize in the 2009 Edelman Competition, the ÒSuper BowlÓ of O.R. practice, showcasing analytics projects that had major impacts on their client organizations. The competition will take place April 27 and is open to all conference registrants. That evening, the six finalists will be honored and the 2009 winner announced at a gala ceremony and banquet. The winners of two other prestigious practice prizes — the INFORMS Prize and the Daniel H. Wagner Prize — will also be announced.


  • CSX Transportation, Inc. – CSX Railway Cashes in on Optimized Equipment Distribution
  • Hewlett-Packard Corp. – Analytics for Product Portfolio Management
  • IBM Corporation – Analytics-Driven Solutions for Increased Sales Force Productivity
  • Marriott International – Group Pricing Optimizer
  • Norske Skog – Norske Skog Benefits as OR Plays a Pivotal Role in the Battle for Improved Profitability
  • Zara – Zara Uses Operations Research to Re-engineer its Global Distribution Process

Focus Topics

The 2009 INFORMS Conference on O.R. Practice will feature a broad range of topic areas, including the following focus topics:

  • Complexity
  • Decision Analysis
  • Green Strategies
  • Health Care Applications
  • Homeland Security, Military & Government
  • Optimization
  • Risk and Uncertainty
  • Service Systems
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Theories of Practice: Implementing Analytics
  • Methodology Tutorials
  • Software Tutorials

For more information, visit:



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