GAMS was attending the OR2019 in Dresden. But I don’t want to report about the conference itself at this point. We gave a workshop, held talks, and had a booth - the usual. However, in Dresden, I was asked not for the first time what GAMS actually does at such a conference.
So, what do we actually want there?
Well… in the very spontaneous situation of the question I felt a bit surprised and just stammered together some answers like “GAMS users are 50% academics”, “other software companies are here as well” or “the good food (haha).” That’s correct, but it wasn’t compelling… After that, I thought more about it. And I realized that there are several good reasons for a company like GAMS to go to such conferences.
The most obvious first: GAMS is a sponsor of the event. This is of course done primarily for marketing reasons. As a sponsor, you can have a booth at the conference and show your presence. But in fact, we have the booth not only for marketing reasons. A booth is also an excellent meeting place. Not only people who are looking for more information about GAMS come here. People often come to us and tell us about their experiences with GAMS, positive as well as negative. Usually, requests for possible new features are expressed, which sometimes leads to ideas for new functionalities in our tools. Or questions are asked, which we can then answer with, so far for them unknown or upcoming features. Of course, we also inform about the latest developments. Next to GAMS, several other software companies report about what is going on in their R&D.
In any case, we gain valuable insights how our tool is used, where difficulties in comprehension may exist, and what else we could work on. A quote from Bill Gates fits here: “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” Conferences are also a perfect place for networking. Make new contacts, maintain existing ones. Sometimes there are opportunities for potential internships (and more).
Many of our employees are very much involved in the field of operations research. Of course, we are interested in seeing what is currently being worked on in the academic field and always want to be up to date in terms of current research and challenges. Conferences like the OR are an excellent choice for this. And last but not least: The OR community is very nice and familiar, you know and appreciate each other. Meeting again at conferences is fun and strengthens the connections.
I hope I can remember this text the next time I’m asked what GAMS is doing at the conference.
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