Professor V Nagadevara, former Dean and Director (i/c) of IIM Bangalore and Chair of the Faculty Development & Evaluation Committee of IIM Visakhapatnam, inaugurated the “Interdisciplinary Decision Science & Analytics Lab” (IDeAL) today on August 18, 2021.

IDeAL is a Centre of Excellence dedicated to inter-disciplinary research. Speaking to the press, Director IIM Visakhapatnam Professor Chandrasekhar said that IDeAL would play a vital role in bringing industry, government, and academia together to address socio-economic issues of inter-disciplinary nature, particularly being faced by aspirational districts like Visakhapatnam.

Professor Chandrasekhar elaborated that the aim of IDeAL is to act as a platform for conceptualizing, inventing, building, and valorizing product, and service innovations. IIMV being a public-spirited and public-funded institution, the goal is to come up with disruptive and transformative innovations that serve larger public purpose, public interest and public good, he added.

He said IDeAL will focus, to begin with, on health care and natural resource management solutions with a view to facilitating their availability, accessibility, and affordability.

The inauguration of the Lab was graced by industry leader Dr Jai Ganesh (MBA, Oxford University & PhD IIM Bangalore), Senior Vice President & Head of Mphasis research and innovation center (NEXT Labs), who talked about the interplay of data sciences, artificial intelligence, and machine learning in the transformation of industry and society at large. He highlighted the importance of aspects like explainability and auditability of decision science models and solutions, for them to gain greater acceptance among the beneficiaries.

Professor Parthasarathy Ramachandran (MS & PhD: Oklahoma State University), Chairman, Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Science, in his address, spoke about current research challenges in inter-disciplinary decisions sciences, such as collection, compilation, collation of big data; engagement and communicating with stakeholders, as well as the need for ensuring equity, equality and ethics in the use and interpretation of data.

Professor Nagadevara (PhD: Iowa State University) in his inaugural address highlighted the inter-disciplinarity of decision sciences and how even areas like Organization Behavior could benefit immensely from analytics. He emphasized the importance of developing a Use-Case repository, which is only possible through deep engagement with the industry. The Lab could act as a trusted third-party among various players, resolving issues of confidentiality, he exhorted. He stressed that current pandemic situation has the silver lining of being a good ground for developing descriptive, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive analytics in the healthcare space.

He wished that the Lab should stabilize, surge, and succeed in a short time, building capacities in the region in healthcare analytics, in institutions such as medical and pharmacy colleges, hospitals, pathology and diagnostic labs etc.

Dr. Shivshanker Singh Patel (BTech: NIT Raipur; MTech: IIT Roorkee; and PhD IISc Bangalore), Head of the IDeAL at IIM Visakhapatnam explained how the Lab would deploy mathematical optimization and data science as the core for modelling and analysis. It would work at the intersection of mathematics, statistics, operations research, economics, computer, and social sciences and spawn solutions that address real-life challenges. Extensive use of tools and techniques like artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, cloud computing, graph analytics, game theory, pervasive computing would be used, he added.