Copyright © 2016
Data Analysis Australia

Think Global, Act Local

When commuting, you choose which way to turn based on your destination and chosen route, not by which direction is easiest at each junction.  This is an example of thinking globally before acting locally and the same principle should apply to almost everything we do.  We tend to consider global decision making an art, but mathematicians have turned it into a science.  Richard Bellman introduced dynamic programming in the 1950s – a multistage decision process built on the approach of considering where you want to end up, and working backwards until you define that first, optimal step that’ll get you there.

The bigger the decision, the more complex global thinking becomes, but also the more critical. 

We’ve all seen situations where individual departments have optimised things for themselves at the detriment of the organisation as a whole.  The mathematical discipline of operations research facilitates complex decision making, but it is really a formal mechanism for techniques we use in our every-day lives.  Optimal path analysis is just picking your route to work through rush-hour traffic, and inventory analysis is simply choosing the right time to stock up on milk.  

While an informed individual might find a good solution to a decision problem, a scientific approach can often find a better one.  This is where operations research comes in.  In business, this means increased efficiency, and in big-business, this means big bucks.  

Data Analysis Australia has used operations research to identify the key constraints in increasing channel traffic in a shipping port, saving the operators millions of dollars plus the unnecessary environmental impact of further dredging.  We have advised location planning for social services – Courts and Health Services in the Perth metropolitan area, ensuring accessibility commensurate to the population.  

Data Analysis Australia’s Consultants have training and expertise in operations research, but we also have a unique approach and strength - our complementary statistical expertise.  We understand the random nature of events present in real-life scenarios.  We can estimate distributions for customer arrivals, service times, intermittent breakdowns or delays such as traffic incidents to ensure the model is complete.  This process itself provides key insights for our clients.  We also understand the random nature of outputs of operations research models, and how consistently “good” a result needs to be before it can be considered the best available.  Data Analysis Australia uses a scientific approach to solving decision problems that gives clarity, insight and confidence.

Contact Data Analysis Australia on daa@daa.com.au to discuss how operations research can improve your business.

September 2016