Forecasting's Eternal Questions


I'm back in the office after two enjoyable days at the Internet Summit in Raleigh, NC. (I hadn't seen that many nerds since the family reunion on my dad's side.) Among the many good sessions was one about building your blog audience by making the blog more search friendly. The way to do this, I learned, is to fill The BFD with links to popular search terms. So, loyal readers, please excuse this brazen commercial interruption intended to build my blog audience, while simultaneously lowering its average IQ:

free justin bieber wal-mart kate gosselin hairstyles president barack obama lady gaga tiger woods sandra bullock kim kardashian

(Thanks to the Chicago Tribune for providing Bing's most popular searches of 2010.)

Life's Eternal Questions

Forecasting, like life itself, is full of eternal questions that get asked by each new generation. In life we ask such things as:

And in forecasting, we ask over and over again (as here on the IBF Linked-In Group discussion):

  • What denominator should I use in my percentage error calculations?

While I am ill-prepared to explain love, god, clothes dryers, or especially, Bristol Palin’s dancing (was it the gorilla suit?), I can recommend a new publication from Foresight: The International Journal of Applied Forecasting that should be required reading for all practicing forecasters.

Forecast Accuracy Measurement: Pitfalls to Avoid and Practices to Adopt is a compilation of previously published Foresight articles on forecasting metrics, benchmarking, forecastability, and calculating the costs of forecast error. Its highlight is a new tutorial by Editor (and The BFD guest blogger) Len Tashman on “Dos and Dont’s of Forecast-Accuracy Measurement.” Len walks us through 16 taboos, including one of my personal favorites:

    Taboo #9: Failing to report a relative-error metric and hence offering no perspective on the degree to which your forecasting method improves upon an appropriate benchmark.

What Am I Worth?

For answers to another eternal question (what should I be getting paid?), see the newly released forecasting salary survey by Dr. Chaman Jain of the Institute of Business Forecasting. The survey is available as a free download to IBF members.


About Author

Mike Gilliland

Product Marketing Manager

Michael Gilliland is a longtime business forecasting practitioner and formerly a Product Marketing Manager for SAS Forecasting. He is on the Board of Directors of the International Institute of Forecasters, and is Associate Editor of their practitioner journal Foresight: The International Journal of Applied Forecasting. Mike is author of The Business Forecasting Deal (Wiley, 2010) and former editor of the free e-book Forecasting with SAS: Special Collection (SAS Press, 2020). He is principal editor of Business Forecasting: Practical Problems and Solutions (Wiley, 2015) and Business Forecasting: The Emerging Role of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (Wiley, 2021). In 2017 Mike received the Institute of Business Forecasting's Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2021 his paper "FVA: A Reality Check on Forecasting Practices" was inducted into the Foresight Hall of Fame. Mike initiated The Business Forecasting Deal blog in 2009 to help expose the seamy underbelly of forecasting practice, and to provide practical solutions to its most vexing problems.

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