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50 Best Companies to Watch 2017

Lumina Decision Systems, Inc. Creator of Analytica: Bringing clarity to complex decisions

thesiliconreview-max-henrion-ceo-lumina-decision-systems-inc-17Like many energy and environmental issues, the question of how to decommission California’s 27 offshore oil platforms started with great controversy. Environmental activists insisted that the rigs be removed entirely, costing the oil companies over a billion dollars. Lumina was asked to build a decision tool using Analytica software to help the stakeholders explore the options and clarify their implications. By the end of the process, they reached near consensus on one preferred decision – to leave the massive undersea support structures as artificial reefs to foster marine life and split the savings with a fund for ocean conservation. The California legislature voted with near unanimity for a bill, signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger. The project, led by Lumina’s CEO, Max Henrion, won the Decision Analysis Practice Award in 2014 from the Society for Decision Professionals. 

This engagement illustrates how a well-crafted software tool can help move decision makers beyond their preconceptions to explore and evaluate a wider range of possibilities. A thoughtful decision analysis, bringing in a wide range of expertise and perspectives, exploring multiple scenarios, can help an organization transform the agility and effectiveness of its decision process. It enables them to analyze a wider range of data faster so they can seize new opportunities before their competition.

The Evolution of Lumina

Recognizing the potential of a new kind of decision software based on visual influence diagrams and Intelligent Arrays™, Max Henrion developed a prototype while professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He focused on creating a tool more transparent than spreadsheets, and more convenient for exploring the uncertainties and risks in long-range decisions. In 1991, realizing that this tool would have enormous value for a wider audience, Max founded Lumina Decisions Systems, Inc., to make Analytica available as a commercial product. PC Week said, “Everything that’s wrong with the common spreadsheet is fixed in Analytica”.   

Lonnie Chrisman (Lumina’s CTO) joined Lumina in 1996 and continues to lead software development. The Lumina team has worked closely with clients, using intuitive, yet rigorous, graphical forms to understand the complex and uncertain environments faced by their organizations. The prime focus is to provide insight into ‘what matters and why’ as a basis for confident decisions.

Initially, Analytica achieved success in selected verticals such as risk analysis for food for FDA and Space Shuttle operations for NASA. Over time, many more industries recognized the need to deal explicitly with uncertainty, ranging from insurance, R&D management, and oil and gas exploration. Analytica is seeing extensive adoption by industry, consulting firms, and government, for key decisions in energy and the environment.

Products & Services

Lumina’s flagship software product is Analytica®. Overcoming the limitations of spreadsheets, Analytica uses a highly graphical and scalable modeling environment with convenient tools for analyzing uncertainties. In response to clients’ ever-increasing needs for sophisticated analytics, Lumina has expanded Analytica’s scalability, performance, and ease of use, with powerful optimization engines to find the best strategy in complex domains.

Analytica editions include Analytica Free 101(downloadable at no cost), Optimizer, and the Analytica Cloud Player for instant web applications. Cubeplan, the latest product, is an integrated platform for collaborative planning for your entire business.

Applications of Analytica and Cubeplan include strategic planning, R&D management, decision analysis and risk analysis in finance, healthcare, energy, environment, aerospace, and telecommunications. Used on six continents, Analytica is used by major corporations, consulting firms, universities, government agencies, and the World Bank.Lumina has established a reputation for providing rapid support and consulting to tackle tough and urgent analytic challenges in almost every industry.


The Roadmap Ahead

The company has been successful in providing an efficient decision analysis tool, bringing a wide range of expertise and perspective to clients, and helping them transform their decision process. Since 1991, Analytica has continued to evolve, responding to the needs of customers, colleagues and collaborators. “We anticipate rapid growth, especially for customers focused on the global challenges of energy and sustainability. There is an urgent need to adopt more collaborative approaches when making complex decisions”, Max Henrion.


Meet the Pioneer 

Max Henrion is the Founder and CEO of Lumina Decision Systems and has 35 years of experience as a researcher, professor (at Carnegie Mellon University and Stanford), software designer, consultant, and entrepreneur.

He has published three books, including Uncertainty: A Guide to Dealing with Uncertainty in Policy and Risk Analysis (Cambridge University Press, 1990), and over sixty peer-reviewed articles. He was the founding President of the Association for Uncertainty and Artificial Intelligence and VP for Decision Technology at Ask Jeeves. He has a BA in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University, Master of Design from the Royal College of Art, London, and a PhD from Carnegie Mellon.  

"If you find yourself struggling with complex spreadsheets, you will find Analytica a revelation."