Select a topic:
Data Science
Operations and Supply Chain
  • As we reflect back on 2016, a few interesting themes emerge on the importance of operations in business: Some of the biggest brands in the world are promoting talent into key leadership positions with a foundation in operations.  David Taylor is just over a year into his role as President & CEO of Procter &... Read More »
  • In a previous blog Dr. Mike Watson offered up a statement that seemed to goes against what people have been taking for granted within inventory solutions for years: You Don’t Need the Optimization in Multi-Echelon Optimization.  Opex Anlaytics Data Scientist, Bradford Winkleman recently followed this up with very insightful Guest Blog for Supply Chain Digest digging into... Read More »
  •   Last month, Bloomberg Businessweek ran a story on how the New England Paper Tube company made a comeback from bankruptcy by focusing on the products it could make profitably (and that no one else could).  It is worth a quick read– it is a very small company, but has two interesting lessons. The first... Read More »
  • The Four Myths of Supply Chain Risk

    Larry Snyder, Ph.D. Sep 30th, 2016
    In over 15 years of studying supply chain risk, there is a common set of comments that I often hear from both supply chain researchers and practitioners. Whether they would admit it or not, the people making these comments are basically using them as an excuse to say, “Meh. I’m not going to bother dealing... Read More »
  • On LinkedIn, I came across this short, one and a half minute, video on how Amazon arranges items in its prime warehouses.  These are the warehouses where Amazon stocks items in local markets for their 2- and 1-hour deliveries.  The warehouses store items randomly throughout the warehouse to minimize the time to pick.  The video... Read More »
  • Dealing With Poor Predictive Models

    Hari Murakonda Sep 23rd, 2016
  • We’ve all been there. You have spent all week getting the optimal results and now you have a short time to put your results in a presentable form. You can spend hours getting the right answer, but if your delivery isn’t clear then that may overshadow all the hard work you’ve done. When designing a... Read More »
  • Imagining the Supply Chain of 2030

    Kristen Daihes Sep 15th, 2016
      I had the opportunity to join the Supply Chain Insight Global Summit last week in Arizona.  As expected, this summit did not disappoint.  Lora Cecere has a knack for pushing practitioners, vendors, and consultants outside of their comfort zone.  She uses data to weave a story about reality that we cannot refute, and then... Read More »
  • Whether for documentation or reporting, incorporating document producing packages in your R code will allow you to easily share your code and its outputs. Incorporating these methods will improve your productivity especially if the process is iterative or recurring. You will also avoid copying and pasting code and graphs over and over again! Today we... Read More »
  • The Truth is That Multi-Echelon Inventory Optimization is Widely Misunderstood and Chances are, you Don’t Need Optimization (This article first appeared in Supply Chain Digest) Multi-Echelon Inventory Optimization (MEIO) has been a hot topic for the last 15 years—software vendors push it, industry analysts tout it, and customers demand it. The surprising truth behind all... Read More »
  • Below are useful guidelines for how to build and maintain a data-centered process that can help drive analytical capability for you and your organization.   Businesses across all industries are pushing to grow their data and analytical capabilities. In the pursuit of a data-driven business, common mistakes can be made. To help you better navigate... Read More »
  • A couple of years ago while working on my PhD and before joining Opex Analytics, I had the privilege of working with some amazing people as part of solving a customer product delivery and transportation problem for GE Appliances & Lighting. The results of this collaboration is published in a journal paper and we believe... Read More »
  • “Baseline Validation” is as elemental to a network modeling workplan as “creating good jobs” is to a candidate’s economic plan. It has to be there. You can’t be against it. But it’s not always clear whether there is any real meat to that part of the plan. A baseline scenario is the first model run... Read More »
  • Who is Afraid of the Big (Bad) Wolf?

    Diego Klabjan Aug 19th, 2016
      In May 2016 I participated at the IRI Annual meeting in Orlando. I attended the round table “Implications of Big Data on R&D Management” organized by the Big Data Working Group where I serve as a subject matter expert. The discussion was moderated by Mike Blackburn, R&D Portfolio/Program Leader, Cargill. The participants from companies... Read More »
  • When I was a planner more than 15 years ago for a consumer goods manufacturer, I approached each Monday morning with dread.  Not because I did not enjoy the company I was working for, rather I knew that I would be entering into a period of painstaking 5-Why research looking back a week to categorize... Read More »
  • The Newsvendor Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story

    Larry Snyder, Ph.D. Aug 5th, 2016
  • Role of Loss Functions in Machine Learning

    Mohsen Moarefdoost Ph.D. Jun 30th, 2016
  • (This is the second article in the series on Profit Maximization that was first published at SCDigest.) In a previous post, I discussed two big reasons why you shouldn’t build your supply chain model to maximize profit. Hopefully, I convinced you and prevented needless extra work and heartache. However, even if you have a cost... Read More »
  • (We recently were interviewed on weekly The Supply Chain Television Channel and CSCMP– click on the above picture and go to the 3:55 mark for the interview.  The interview was based on the following blog post which also appeared on SCDigest.  We received a lot of feedback on the post and will write more. Without further... Read More »
  • You Can Set Inventory Levels and Other Such Myths

    Michael Watson Ph.D May 13th, 2016
    (This article first appeared in SupplyChainDigest.) If you are like me, when you first got into the inventory field it was hard to figure out what it was planners were actually doing. When I asked inventory planners and managers what they were doing. They gave answers like the following: “We set our inventory levels to... Read More »
  • Discovery vs Production with Big Data

    Diego Klabjan Mar 18th, 2016
    It has been noted that big data technologies are predominantly used for ETL and data discovery. The former has been around for decades and is well understood with a mature market. Data discovery is much newer and less understood. Wikipedia’s definition reads “Data discovery is a business intelligence architecture aimed at interactive reports and explorable... Read More »
  • (This article first appeared at Supply Chain Digest and was co-written with Paul Brown.) When rolling out a tactical inventory planning system, there are several organizational issues you need to keep in mind.  These will matter as much as the technical capabilities of the solution in terms of overall implementation success. 1.  You may have... Read More »
  • Many companies are sitting on an asset and aren’t realizing its value. This asset is the data you have from customer call transcripts and complaints.  A lot of such call transcripts and customer complaint databases have existed for a long time without drawing much interest as a source of broader insights. In most cases, the... Read More »
  • Mathematical Optimization and Machine Learning

    Mohsen Moarefdoost Ph.D. Feb 15th, 2016
    You won’t be surprised if I tell you machine learning, data mining and data science are hot topics today. But, you might be wondering what makes you an expert in these fields? You definitely need to know basic data wrangling, munging and manipulation. Also, you should be familiar with tools like Python, R, MATLAB, and... Read More »
  • I just came across an article in Inbound Logistics on the 6 Steps you should go through in a network model.  This article serves as a good reminder on what it takes to do a network design project.  The six steps are: State your goals Assemble the data Clean up the data Create scenarios Run the... Read More »
  • I heard a great story on how Nick Saban’s Alabama football team wins so many games. The story goes like this:  They never focused on the outcome of the game or looked at the scoreboard.  Instead, they focused all efforts on executing the very next play.  Every play was treated like it was a game... Read More »
  • Top 3 Predictions for Network Design in 2016

    Michael Watson Ph.D Feb 2nd, 2016
    Last week, Dan Gilmore of Supply Chain Digest asked us to provide predictions for what would happen in the field of network design.  Here is his full article with predictions in other areas. Here our Top 3  predictions for 2016: 1.  Modeling will become more collaborative.  Modeling has always required data and feedback from many different... Read More »
  •   The Wall Street Journal recently published an Op-Ed piece by Andy Kessler (author of Eat People and Running Money, and other books) on what new technologies today will really change the world. Many of the ideas had to do with how sensors would open up new possibilities.  The 5 ideas that had to do... Read More »
  • A Tech Tip on Interpolation

    Sari Nahmad Jan 21st, 2016
    This week’s tech tip is on interpolation, one kind of data transformation data scientists use to create new data points within the range of a discrete set of existing data points. This technique is often used to transform quarterly data to monthly data. Presented below are three common methods of interpolation that convert the original... Read More »
  • (This article first appeared in SupplyChainDigest and was co-authored by Sara Lewis) Recent advances in computing and availability of data have driven an explosion of enthusiasm around predictive analytics. As these algorithms and technology spread through companies and industries, it has become increasingly important to have knowledge of key concepts that extend beyond buzzwords. There... Read More »
  • Non-linear models and the value they can create

    Mohsen Moarefdoost Ph.D. Jan 18th, 2016
    Operations research analysts and modelers try to avoid non-linear models in network and supply chain design. This has led many of us to believe that most of the problems in the area of supply chain are inherently mixed-integer linear problems. In fact, there are many problems that require non-linear modeling; remember that the most basic... Read More »
  • It is hard to avoid hearing about the $1.5 Billion Powerball.  Along with the size of the prize, there has been a lot of attention on your chances of winning (1 in 292 million).  So, I thought this was as good as any excuse to talk about the expected value.  Here are three lessons: #1:... Read More »
  • Bringing Analytics to the CFO

    Michael Watson Ph.D Jan 12th, 2016
    A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted the rising need for analytics on the CFO’s team. The article highlighted how CFO created groups for Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) that went beyond normal finance functions and helped the business run better. The article gave the example of the FP&A team at Dunkin Donuts help... Read More »
  •   MH&L recently published an article on the Top 10 advanced technologies that will shape manufacturing’s future.  The research was done by Deloitte and the US Council on Competitiveness. Here is the list: Predictive analytics Smart, connected products (Internet-of-Things) Advanced materials Smart factories (Internet-of-Things) Digital design, simulation and integration High performance computing Advanced robotics 3D... Read More »
  • The Big Short, a box office hit, details how Dr. Michael Burry (and a select few) predicted the credit and housing bubble collapse and made millions while the entire economy went down the drain. How did Burry end up on top? The key to his success was that he analyzed the fine details: loan data... Read More »
  • On Dec 15th, Snapfish, a photo services company, found themselves on the front page of the USA Today. Unfortunately, the reason they made the front page was that they were very late in shipping Christmas cards to customers.  And, customers were upset. We saw something similar during Christmas 2013 when UPS and FedEx could not... Read More »
  • NPR’s Planet Money recently did a podcast on A/B testing.  It is worth a listen if you are new to the topic.  A/B testing is a key part of the current analytics movement. The podcast did a nice job in highlighting one of the key case studies on how Barack Obama used it in his... Read More »