A Recap of the Symposium “AI for Operations Management”

Friday, May 12th, 2023, the historic Spoorwegmuseum in Utrecht served as the ideal setting for a timely symposium on “AI for Operations Management”. Jointly organized by TKI Dinalog and the Beta Research School, the event brought together academic insights and industry expertise, creating a space for active learning and interaction.

In three plenary talks and nine breakout sessions, 19 speakers, each a specialist in their field, presented diverse topics related to the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the domain of Operations Management (OM). They discussed algorithms and modelling techniques in AI, demonstrating how these tools can optimize operations by improving efficiency, resilience, and sustainability. But the main focus of the symposium was on practical applications of AI, offering a glimpse into a future where AI-driven solutions are integral to OM. Most breakout sessions consisted of inspiring duo presentations from academia and industry, showing the close collaboration in this field and joint efforts to implement these techniques in practice. On a critical note, most of the presented projects were still in their infancy and the AI techniques were often only demonstrated on small-scale simplified problem settings. Various presentations also showcased the challenges of implementing AI in our domain, from a technical perspective (e.g., modelling and computational challenges) as well as a human perspective (e.g., acceptability, explainability, and ethical aspects). Also various speakers explored how AI could collaborate with humans to enhance their capabilities and increase collective intelligence.

Niels Agatz one of the speakers: A nice and inspiring event. My key take-aways: (1) research on AI in OM is thriving in the Netherlands – many bright young researchers and a lot of projects in close collaboration with practice. (2) AI is especially promising for making predictions (for example demand, costs/benefits of certain actions in complex systems) (3) More research is needed in the coming years to exploit the potential benefits

In addition to the presentations, a lively poster session unfolded where ten scholars showcased their work. This session was particularly interactive, allowing participants to engage in in-depth discussions and share fresh perspectives. The posters covered a wide range of topics, further enriching the discourse around AI in OM.

In the symposium it became clear that AI is booming and well-known under a broad audience, but only for very specific areas like generative AI (e.g., ChatGPT). The use of AI in the OM domain, e.g., to support logistics decision making and controlling production processes, in still in an early stage. Although some of the presented projects clearly showed promising results on the use of AI for real-life OM problems, some others showed current AI techniques might not always outperform the more traditional optimization approaches. Hence, more research and even tighter collaboration between industry and academia is necessary. Furthermore, it would benefit the community to have more shared success stories, showcasing how AI have been used to improve business processes in the OM domain.

Reflecting on the event, Maarten Hendriks from ASML & Tilburg University said, “This symposium has been a great experience: a very nice program and setting where people of different industries and universities gathered to talk about a joint topic: AI in OM. Very inspiring lectures and poster presentations all showing the (potential) business value of Artificial Intelligence.

In conclusion, the “AI for Operations Management” symposium successfully brought together Dutch scientists and practitioners working on the forefront of AI, to increase the understanding and leveraging the potential of AI in OM. The symposium offered a platform for enlightening discussions, sharing innovative ideas, underscoring the potential of AI in transforming the OM domain, as well as critically reflecting on this. The insights and knowledge shared have laid a foundation for future exploration and innovation in this exciting field.

As we continue to delve deeper into the potential of AI for Operations Management, we encourage you to stay engaged. Join us in future events and forums to further this discussion, and consider how you can contribute to or benefit from this rapidly evolving field. Together, we can shape the future of Operations Management.

Click here for presentations:
Niels Agatz
Martijn Mes 
Kasper Hendriks en Luca Begnardi
Ger Koole
Eirini Spiliotopoulou 
Christina Imdahl 

Be the first to comment