2022 Franz Edelman Competition: General Motors

This podcast is part of a special series featuring the 2022 finalist teams for the INFORMS Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Advanced Analytics, Operations Research and Management Science, the most prestigious award for achievement in the practice of O.R. and advanced analytics.

For more than four decades, the Edelman Award has recognized contributions that are transforming how we approach some of the world’s most complex problems. Finalists for the Edelman Award have contributed to a cumulative impact of more than $336 billion since the award’s inception, as well as countless other nonmonetary benefits. The winner of this year’s award will be announced at the 2022 INFORMS Business Analytics Conference, April 3-5.

Joining me for this episode are Peiling Wu-Smith, Research Manager and Technical Fellow, and Kathryn Schumacher, Staff Researcher, both with the Advanced Analytics Center of Expertise in Chief Data & Analytics Office, to discuss the finalist entry from the team at General Motors.

General Motors (GM) is on a journey toward helping to create a world with zero emissions, zero crashes and zero congestion. Decisions on new product content, packaging and pricing are central to this goal and the GM customer experience. Vehicle Content Optimization (VCO) helps GM make these decisions while offering a full-line portfolio of vehicles that meet the vast diversity of customer needs and preferences. Developed entirely within GM, VCO combines advanced consumer market research, discrete choice models and novel optimization algorithms into a user-friendly, fully productionized system which has had a significant impact on GM’s Global Vehicle Development process.

The key value proposition of the Vehicle Content Optimization process is that we’re keeping the voice of the customer at the center of our decision making. Our approach leverages the voice of the customer and comprehends the complex dynamics and trade-offs involved in the decision process. Specifically, the VCO process includes several key proprietary technical innovations, including a custom market research design, a custom Bayesian Markov Chain Monte Carlo fitting procedure, a calibrated market simulator, and a novel multi-objective, non-linear optimizer. These innovations are protected through nine documented GM trade secret inventions.

Interviewed this episode:

Peiling Wu, Smith, Kathryn Schumacher

General Motors

Peiling Wu-Smith is a research manager and technical fellow in the Advanced Analytics COE of General Motors Chief Data & Analytics Office, focusing on applying advanced analytics to GM’s enterprise-wide business. She received her Ph.D. in industrial engineering and operations research at Lehigh University and is recognized as a member of the GM team awarded the INFORMS Prize for its “sustained track record of innovative and impactful applied operations research and advanced analytics.”​

Kathryn Schumacher is a staff researcher in the Advanced Analytics COE of General Motors Chief Data & Analytics Office.