I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Supply Chain and Information Systems at The Smeal College of Business. I joined the department in 2012 after completing my PhD at MIT in Operations Research.
My research is focused on applied operations research and developing heuristics and solutions for new or undersolved problems driven by applications. Most all of my research has to do with inventory. Specifically, I study online retailing supply chains, mobile-money inventory problems, short-product-life-cycle supply chains, and humanitarian logistics supple chains.
For online retailing, I am especially interested in how organizations can make better fulfillment and replenishment decisions in an environment that is markedly different from traditional brick-and-mortar supply chains. Solutions I helped develop have been implemented at an online retailer which has reduced their outbound shipping costs significantly.
We recently ran a field experiment in Tanzania where we tried to help mobile money agents manage their money inventory better. By varying the type of training and types of daily guidance we offered the agents, we found surprisingly that explicit recommendations combined with in-person training (surprising because the recommendations are simple to follow) was the only treatment to impact agent’s stockout levels.
Dual Sourcing over Short Product Lifecycles
Many technology firms dual-source: they source their products from a fast and expensive supplier/mode as well as a slow and cheaper supplier/mode simultaneously. They must do this over a very short life cycle, due to the speed with which new products are introduced into the marketplace in this sector. This is a notoriously difficult problem. We have partnered with a leading computer manufacturer to help them better manage their inventory under realistic conditions. First, we developed new forecasting models to help predict sales over the short product life cycle. We are currently analyzing different dual sourcing strategies applied to our partner’s unique situation and data.
Building on my field experience with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), I also work with humanitarian organizations to help improve the supply chains that deliver necessary goods to beneficiaries. This stream of research is aimed at giving practitioners better tools to analyze (in a realistic fashion) the quality of their pre-positioned stockpiles. Oftentimes humanitarian relief organizations pre-position important supplies strategically around the world in order to be able to response quickly to natural and man-made disasters. But there is an opportunity for these organizations to improve their coordination. I have been working with the Emergency Supply Pre-positioning Working Group (ESUPS) since 2015 to develop better metrics and workflow to avoid gaps and overlaps and in the end.
I also was part of a team that developed a new putting metric for the PGA TOUR: strokes gained-putting. This work is based on a paper we published in JQAS. The metric and research has been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal and Slate.com.
I earned my PhD from MIT’s Operations Research Center. My thesis is titled Lowering Outbound Shipping Costs in an Online Retail Environment by Making Better Fulfillment and Replenishment Decisions and can been viewed here. My adviser was Stephen Graves. This thesis was awarded the Dantzig Dissertation Prize by INFORMS and the Doctoral Dissertation Award by CSCMP. Before attending MIT, I worked for CapitalOne in collections operations, I was a locations manager in the film industry, and I worked with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) as a logistician in Liberia. I also placed second in the 2015 INFORMS Analytics Section Spreadsheet Guru competition (a contest of Excel speed and skill).
Refereed journal articles
Hu, K., Acimovic, J., Erize, F., Thomas, D., and Van Meighem, J. (2019). Forecasting product life cycle curves: Practical approach and empirical analysis. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 21(1):66-85. (M&SOM Practice-Based Research Competition, finalist, 2017.)
Acimovic, J., S.C. Graves, et al. (2017). Mitigating Spillover in Online Retailing via Replenishment, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 19(3):419-436.
Acimovic, J., J. Goentzel (2016). Models, Metrics, and an Index to Assess Humanitarian Response Capacity. Journal of Operations Management, 45:11-29.
Acimovic, J., and S.C. Graves (2015). Making Better Fulfillment Decisions on the Fly in an Online Retail Environment. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, vol. 17, no. 1. p. 34–51. (M&SOM Best Paper Award, winner, 2017)
Fearing, D., J. Acimovic, and S.C. Graves (2011). How to Catch a Tiger: Understanding Putting Performance on the PGA TOUR. Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, vol. 7, no. 1.
Grober, R.D., J. Acimovic, J. Schuck, D. Hessman, P.J. Kindlemann, J. Hespanha, A.S. Morse, K. Karrai, I. Tiemann, and S. Manus (2000). Fundamental Limits to Force Detection Using Quartz Tuning Forks. Review of Scientific Instruments, vol. 71.
Acimovic, J., Lim, M. K., and Mak, H.-Y. (2018). Beyond the speed-price trade-off. MIT Sloan Management Review, pages 13-15. May 8.
Acimovic, J. and Farias, V. (2019). The fulllment optimization problem. INFORMS TutORials in Operations Research. INFORMS. Forthcoming.
Acimovic, J., Erize, F., Hu, K., Thomas, D., and Van Meighem, J. (2019). Product life cycle data-set: Raw and cleaned data of weekly orders for personal computers. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 21(1):66-85.
Working papers and works in progress
Acimovic, J., Balasubramanian, K., Drake, D., and Parker, C. (Under revision at Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 2019). Improving Inventory Support for Agent-Based Businesses at the Base of the Pyramid. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3186575.
Sun, J., Acimovic, J., Erize, F., Thomas, D., and Van Mieghem, J. (In progress). Dual sourcing over the product life cycle: On days sales of inventory policies.
Rothkopf, A., Acimovic, J., and Goentzel, J. (In progress). Performance metrics for emergency response network design.
Balasubramanian, K., Acimovic, J., and Drake, D. (In progress). Two-way inventory pools for mobile money agents in the developing world.
Acimovic, J., (2012). “Lowering Outbound Shipping Costs in an Online Retail Environment by Making Better Fulfillment and Replenishment Decisions,” PhD Thesis, MIT, 2012. (Dantzig Dissertation Prize, 2013, CSCMP Doctoral Dissertation Award, 2013)
I teach an undergraduate class: “SCM421: Supply Chain Analytics.” This class focuses on solving supply chain problems from vague beginning to insightful end using spreadsheet models, R, and Tableau. We get our hands very messy with dirty data, and find insight by building models. Some examples of videos I’ve uploaded for my students are here (click for link to Youtube). Also, see if you can pass the shortcut challenge in Excel (really more of an activity) where (if you’re on a PC) you can unplug the mouse to learn to do more things with just the keyboard.