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Innovation in Analytics Award looks to build on its success

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After wrapping up a hugely successful launch of its Innovation in Analytics Award, the Analytics Section of INFORMS – led by section president and award committee chair Michael Gorman – is ready to make the 2012-2013 competition even bigger and better. The upgrades include a doubling of total prize money (from $1,750 to $3,500), a more structured application process (to facilitate comparisons of submissions) and extended sessions at the 2012 INFORMS Annual Meeting this fall and at the 2013 INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics & Operations Research next April to give all semifinalists (fall meeting) and finalists (spring meeting) an opportunity to showcase their work.

“I was overwhelmed with the quality, sophistication and impact of our finalists and semifinalists,” Gorman says of the inaugural competition, which drew a remarkable 50 entries from around the world. The award recognizes “creative and unique developments, applications or combinations of analytical techniques” and is designed to “promote the awareness of the value of analytics techniques in unusual applications or in creative combination to provide unique insights and/or business value.”

The three 2011/2012 finalists – IBM, Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians and consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton – demonstrated not just quality, sophistication and impact, but also the varied and novel applications of analytics that the competition seeks to honor. After a nearly yearlong competition that included vetting and presentations, a panel of judges named Booz Allen Hamilton the winner for its project, “Enhancing Immigration Enforcement with Decision Analytics.”

Working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to help ICE efficiently align its resources to remove criminal offenders, Booz Allen’s implementation of analytics spanned three years and involved developing a set of models used to solve challenging problems such as forecasting the number of criminal illegal aliens, optimizing a technology deployment schedule and minimizing the transportation costs of removal. The impact of the work resulted in a doubling of criminal alien removals.

Presentation slides of the 2012 winner Booz Allen Hamilton and finalist IBM can be found on the Analytics Section website (www.informs.org/Community/Analytics/Presentations) now. You have to be a member of the section to view these slides. Video of Booz Allen Hamilton’s winning presentation is coming soon.

Asked what differentiates the Innovation in Analytics Award from similar INFORMS prizes, Gorman says it’s not necessarily about the huge impact dollars associated with the Edelman Award or the theoretical advances that the Wagner Prize judges value. Instead, Gorman says, the Innovation in Analytics Award is “an applied award that celebrates creative applications or integration of analytical techniques. We look for novelty approaches and innovation, not necessarily a big financial impact. That makes it a little different.”

It also opens the competition up to a universe of possible entries from everything from one-man consultancies to international conglomerates, and puts them on a level playing field as far as judging is concerned.

Entries for the 2012-2013 Innovation in Analytics Award are due July 15, 2012. For complete details on the application process, paper and presentation requirements and other important dates, click here. For information on the Analytics Section of INFORMS, which has attracted more than 750 members since it was founded less than two years ago, click here.

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