The Elephant in the Room

This is my first INFORMS Analytics conference and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  As analytics practitioners we all come from a variety of companies, industries, and geographical locations.  I would even argue we come from a variety of fields.  So, what is “analytics?”  I was pleasantly surprised that so many of the speakers have addressed this question as an important topic.  I think of it as the “elephant in the room” and I appreciate and applaud the INFORMS community for speaking to it directly.

Companies are clamoring for “analytics.”  They want data scientists but do they know what that is or why they need that capability.  We read article after article discussing the talent gap in the U.S.  Does that talent gap really even exist?  Is it more of a communication gap?  The talent is there and growing.  More and more academic programs in analytics are springing up.  The CAP certification is gaining momentum.  Is it really the burden of the practitioner or the community of practitioners (INFORMS) to better inform industry of what we can do to improve the function and profitability of their businesses?  Some industry is buying into these “buzz terms” as if it is an untapped market, rather than an “under-tapped” innovative approach to seeking new markets or optimizing existing markets.

These are the questions I contemplate personally as I grow in my operations research and analytics career.  I am interested in learning more at tomorrow’s session, “How Does Industry Define Analytics?”