Top 5 Conference Takeaways

by Rob Ende on April 19th, 2012

It was a great conference as usual.  After a day to reflect, here are my top 5 takeaways (not necessarily in order):

(1)   Google Insights for Search
Hal Varian, Google’s Chief Economist, gave a compelling keynote that made great use of this free tool.  Check it out if you haven’t done so already.  It’s a great way to identify market trends based on search frequency.  The data goes all the way back to 2004, and you can download the results to combine with other data sources.

(2)   It’s not just about the analytics
Congratulations to TNT Express, winners of the 2012 Edelman Award.   My biggest takeaway from their presentation had nothing to do with their network optimization models.  Rather, it was how they built an entire optimization “ecosystem” centered on their GO (Global Optimisation) Academy.

Lots of companies have advanced optimization capabilities, but TNT have added huge value to the organization – and set a great example for other companies — through leadership, education, training and change management.

(3) The role of Analytics in Decision-Making
We’re always looking for better ways to describe what we do and how we add value through Analytics, and I thought a few of the speakers had particularly interesting angles.

(4)   Simpler is Better
The simplest approach that solves your problem is usually the best one.  Several speakers hit on this point in different ways.

(5)   50 Minutes with the 5 minute analyst
It seems only appropriate to make the 5 Minute Analyst my 5th highlight.  In a very interactive conference session, Harrison Schramm of the Naval Postgraduate School shared some fun and thought-provoking “toy problems”.  Be sure to check out the 5 Minute Analyst column in Analytics Magazine.  The most recent column is available here.

Please let me know your comments.  It’s been fun being one of your Conference Bloggers and I look forward to continuing these interesting discussions.  Until next time…


From Uncategorized

  1. Thanks for the insightful blog. I might have to attend this conference next year!

    By chance, have you noticed a rise in interest for the use of RFID chips (active or passive) to enabled more detailed tracking within business operations?

    According to google’s analytic software for global search (your recommendation in your first takeaway), the searches surrounding RFID have decreased since 2004, though it seems that the market for RFID-enabled products and systems (inventory tracking, access control, and most recently the integration of RFID-enabled event credentials with attendee social media at live events – think Coachella) is growing.

    Just wondering if it’s a key topic at the Business Analytics and Operations Research conference, seeing that in our industry (live events) it’s growing tremendously?

    Thanks again!

  2. Cecil,

    Thanks for your comments. I did not see any direct references to RFID data at the conference, but there were many simultaneous tracks so it’s possible that someone was covering this topic somewhere. I know that many companies have integrated detailed product tracking into their supply chains. I think it’s become part of normal operations for sophisticated manufacturers and retailers.

    I guess I’m not surprised that the searches for RFID have decreased. I suspect that there was a lot of activity a few years ago after Wal-Mart imposed their supplier mandate. Once that initiative slowed down, the searches probably slowed down as well.

    This is a good conference and I hope you can make it next year.