Monday, February 16, 2009

Future of decision and optimization modeling software


There is a great post on Intechne Blog called Living in Interesting Times. The post is a look back on Operations Research software changes within the industry and the organizational movement. It really is a nice change of pace to see so many changes in the news.

There has been a lot of activity recently with concern to decision and optimization software. Organizations are trying to leverage different ways to expand their sphere of influence. I believe there is a trend in software services from these organizations. Here are my thoughts on the future of optimization software in Operations Research.

1. Data Mining and Optimization Modeling Software Convergence. There seems to be a trend to package optimization software applications and software frameworks with current data mining applications. Microsoft seems to be the best example of this with the Microsoft Solver Foundation. Open Source software can easily be applied to this idea as all of the code is available for modifying and redistributing in usable plugins or API's. Examples include OpenOpt and GLPK. SAS is also working to upgrade their Optimization team. I will not be surprised if IBM follows suit, considering their acquisition of ILOG, with a CPLEX API in the future. Enabling ubiquitous software applications like Microsoft Office or OpenOffice with optimization software will leverage users with new, low cost and varied ways to drive business decisions.

2. Decision Analysis will trump Data Analysis. Providing data warehouse services will not be enough for most customers of these software products and services. Organizations that use these software applications will want more robust ways to sift through the data and provide information. The optimization modeling components of rules engines and business rules will be heavily relied upon to get the most of the given data.

You can already see this happening today. In the ILOG Events Blog they have already talked about IBM/ILOG strategies during DIALOG. From the blog article...

...IBM is committed to all the products and to them as standalone products but also looking to integrate into new and existing IBM products.
...(IBM's survey of CEO's) 57% more data next year, average employees spend 2 hours looking for data. How to turn data into information and turn the insight into action.

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