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END of 2014 Annual meeting or is it just the beginning?

by Tarun Mohan Lal on November 12th, 2014

While it’s unbelievable that the 3 rich days of the conference are coming to an end, as I look back at all the things l learnt to take back to my organization. Feels like a year long journey has just begun…

I  saw the blog talking about 3 questions to be asked at the end of the conference. To build on this thought I wanted to share some specific learnings/outcomes for me from the conference

  • Increase my tool box: Often most of us as analytics professionals, end up focusing so much time and energy on a specific method like in my case it was simulation, we often forget to think of using tools that might be a better fit for certain questions. The conference was a good reminer that generated  ideas and thoughts around use of  “unfamiliar” methods of my disctonary on the projects I am currently supporting. One specific example that comes to mind is use of system dynamics to understand the synergistic relationships/impact of PCMH model.
  • New Research Questions: On the other end, the panel discussions at the annual conference were amazingly helpful. I was fortunate to participate on one organized by Health application society that discussed the challenges in healthcare and how OR can help.
  • Bridge the gap between research and practice: As always presentations varied from being extremely theoretical to being extremely practice. But it was pleasing to see that gradually but surely more and more presentations/work is moving towards the center of the distribution. Researchers are thinking practical value and practitioners are recognizing the value of research driven methods. Makes me wonder the reason for this shift in the right direction – more collaborations, push from organizations like INFORMS on applied work initiatives .. whatever be the reason we are moving in the right direction and as a conference attendee, I found more value in these presentations unlike in the previous years where I would sit through the presentations and realize it was a waste of my time. Kudos to the conference committee for providing the
  • My community: Best part of being at INFORMS is getting to know your community. Whether its receptions, presentations, business meetings, special invited luncheons and dinners. Even if you connect with one person at every event you can go back with wealth of know several potential collaborators and friends. At this conference I collected 20 business cards – how many friends did you make?
  • Leadership: INFORMS conferences provide access to the society leadership to pitch your ideas to them. As a citizen/member of INFORMS, you have every right to share your opinions and I feel it’s my social responsibility to do so. When do you want OR/analytics to be in 2020? I was able to share my thoughts at several business meetings and in 1:1 discussions with members of roundtable, board, conference committee etc.
  • Jobs/Opportunities: The career center was amazing! The Big data and analytics buzz seems to be spreading like wild fire. Although, I wasn’t actively looking for jobs, the career center gave me a taste to future career opportunities I can consider and how to navigate my way to it.

So, in summary, I am taking a lot of energy, valuable information and enthusiasm from the 3 incredible days in SFO back to Rochester, MN that will keep me busy until the next annual conference in Nov 2015. Looking forward to come back next year again for another information overload! In the meantime, it’s time to prepare for Huntington beach – abstracts for presentations/posters are being accepted NOW!

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