There are some in the operations research community who want to re-brand operations research. They would like to be called analytics professionals. The reasoning behind this appears to be the following:
Operations research is not that popular;
Analytics is very popular;
They would like to be popular, so;
They will call themselves analytics professionals, and then;
They will be popular.
Here, I will not dwell on the flawed premises, or faulty logic embodied in this reasoning. Instead, I will focus on the consequences of a successful re-branding. When considering these consequences, we should keep the following points in mind:
- While those promoting analytics have trouble defining it, they are in agreement that it encompasses many different disciplines (see Confusion Over Analytics), such as statistics, computer science, data science, big data, business intelligence and operations research.
- Operations research represents a tiny fraction of the IT/analytics universe.
- The existence of generic analytics professionals would imply that there is no longer a meaningful distinction to be made between the ‘former’ disciplines of statistics, computer science and operations research.
To help you envision a post re-branding period, I offer two scenarios. In both, an IT executive is speaking to the leader of what was once an operations research group, but is now an analytics group after being re-branded. Remember, operations research no longer exists!
“Alice, I am assigning you and your team to be part of our data quality initiative.”
“No buts Alice, big data is our priority — we must have high quality data!”
Six months later….
“Well done Alice. You and your team have reduced the error rate by 6%. I’m going to make this assignment to data quality permanent.
“Tom, I am assigning you and your team to our text analytics initiative.”
“No buts Tom, our competitors are all heavily involved in this area — we will not be left behind!”
Six months later….
“Tom, you and your team don’t seem to be up to the task — all of your projects are months behind schedule. I’m going to have to let you and your team go. Report to human resources and pickup your termination package.”
So, in one case those who have re-branded survive, and in the other case they do not. In both cases, the practice of operations research ends.