Next morning, after the opening of the conference (see below - left), Hal Varian (see below - right) took the stage for his opening keynote (which was largely identical to his speech at Strata 2012). He is a really good speaker. I particularly liked his comments about the econometric challenges for the information rich world we live in. The big theme (next to Analytics of course) was “Big Data”, although some of the speakers confused it with having a lot of data.

Then, I attended Suzanne Valentine’s (MS, Sr. Vice President of Science & Analytics, DemandTec Inc., see picture below) session on “Actionable, Collaborative Consumer Insights Via Integrated Data Mining, Modeling and Optimization”.

During her talk, she provided a list of best practices in data collection (see picture below), data harmonization, demand modeling, forecasting and optimization, and collaboration, all mainly for retailers.

Next, Rex Davis (VP dunnhumby, see picture below) gave a talk titled “Cross-Sell, Up-Sell, and Influence: Using Affinity Analysis to Uncover the Secrets of Shopping Behavior and Responding”. He focused on “how to use affinity analysis to discover product affinities and purchase paths”.

Needless to say that, given our own research in this field, it was a very interesting talk. Our own research papers on this topic include:

VINDEVOGEL B., VAN DEN POEL D., WETS G. (2005), Why promotion strategies based on market basket analysis do not work, Expert Systems with Applications, 28 (3), 583-590.

VAN DEN POEL D. et al. (2004), Direct and Indirect Effects of Retail Promotions, Expert Systems with Applications, 27 (1), 53-62.

He then moved into the core topic of assortment decisions. Here, three things are to be considered:

1. Performance

2. Relevance

3. Coverage (have we covered what the customer needs)

Next, there was a plenary panel on “Big Data” (see picture below). This discussion could have provided a bit more depth.

Over some beer or soda, participants were then invited to “Birds of a Feather” discussion groups (see picture below). Just like most sessions, these were very well attended.

The Franz Edelman Gala represented the closing of this very long, but informative day.

Next morning, the award winners had to do their presentation over again. The winning team was the  TNT Express (recently taken over by UPS) entry from The Netherlands (see picture below). They presented their Global Optimization Program (GO) initiative, which has led to the development of an entire suite of optimization solutions and the GO Academy, and their management development training program for teaching the optimization principles. The results are equally impressive: As a result of all these initiatives, O.R. is now an effective part of TNT Express' DNA, and over the period 2008-2011, more than €207 million in savings were realized.

Next, Prof. Dr. Bernd Skiera (University of Frankfurt, see picture below) presented PROSAD: A Bidding Decision Support System for Profit Optimizing Search Engine Advertising. Specifically, his decision support system determines the optimal bids for maximizing the advertiser’s profit per keyword. Great research! The video of the Gary L. Lilien ISMS-MSI Practice Prize version in Washington D.C. is available here.

During breaks, one could also visit the exhibit hall. See some pictures below. E.g. Artelys, the software vendor specializing in non-linear optimization.

... or to say hello to our friends at SAS (below you see yours truly together with Dr. Andre de Waal.

Next, I attended Kean Chew’s (Business Analytics Senior Manager at HAVI Global Solutions, see picture below) session on “The Numbers Behind Burgers and Fries: A Case Study of a Dynamic and Holistic Single View of Demand”. Some promotions are just too successful (e.g. they went viral on social media sites), and may cause disruptions in the entire supply chain.

Bob Page (Vice President, Analytics Platform, eBay, see picture below) gave a talk titled “Digital Analytics at the World’s Largest Online Marketplace”. He gave an in-depth overview of the analytics-environment at eBay. Hadoop is not the right setting for every single analytics situation, so that’s why eBay supports three environments (see slide below).

Then, it was time for our poster session. It is titled “Using Web Crawling to Augment Databases for Customer Acquisition Modeling” co-authored with Jeroen D’Haen & Dirk Thorleuchter.

Next, Anjali Midha (Vice President of Client Services and Analytics, Bluefin Labs, see picture below)  presented her talk titled “Social TV Analytics: Leveraging the Intersection of TV and Social Media for Competitive Advantage”. She gave some excellent examples.

As the last presentation of the conference, I attended Manoj Chari’s (Senior Director, Advanced Analytics Research and Development, SAS Institute, see picture below) talk on “Tools and Approaches for Big Analytics”. As shown on the slide below, SAS is now offering several ways to take advantage of High-Performance Computing/Big Data for High-Performance Analytics. I particularly liked their “Alongside-the-MPP Database” approach, where they store do data processing alongside data (even in-memory) storage on a large number of nodes.

The conference venue was excellent. Moreover, the organizers assured that the food was also very good. Below you see some visual impression of the conference venue, and of the event in general. Congratulations again to the organizers!