Guest Blogger: Len Tashman previews Summer 2012 issue of Foresight

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US Presidential Race Going to the Dogs

Mitt Romney transporting his dog on the roof rack. Barack Obama eating dog meat as a child in Indonesia. Former candidate Rick Santorum overwrought about man-dog love. Is this what the US Presidential race has turned into -- one dog attack after another?

Back in a February post I confessed my practice of man-dog love (illustrated here with my foster dog Mikey). If you'd like this action-packed guy as your very own, for playing ball in the backyard, long walks in the park, or snuggling in front of the tv, just drop me an email. Or if you'd prefer a companion who is less apt to sniff and paw at you in public, Mikey is available for adoption through the Wake County Animal Center.

For an article on forecasting the 2012 US Presidential Election, see the forthcoming issue of Foresight, previewed below.

Editor Len Tashman's Preview of Foresight

Forecastability is a topic of great interest for organizations seeking to benchmark forecasting performance and to determine the degree to which improvement is possible. Foresight’s Spring 2009 issue included a series of articles that defined the dimensions of the forecastability problem and offered some metrics to compare the forecastability of different products. Sean Schubert, who leads strategic improvement initiatives at the Valspar Corporation, a global leader in the paint and coatings industry, now carries the ball forward with his article “Forecastability: A New Method for Benchmarking and Driving Improvement.” Sean shows how to create internal benchmarks based on the modeling of  product-specific attributes, which he calls forecastability DNA.

In the Fall 2011 issue, we introduced Alec Finney’s column, The Forecasting Meeting, in which Fred the Forecaster, Colin the Controller, and Stan the Supply Guy get together to sort out their current forecasting problems. Their first meeting dealt with the challenges of preparing “The Senior Managers’ Monthly Forecasting Report.” In this issue, the powers that be have requested that forecasts be accompanied by narrative that affords transparency to the figures and the process, challenging Fred, Colin, and Stan to deal with these “Questions from On High.”

“Forecasting Software: Improving the User Experience”by Stavros Asimakopoulos continues Foresight’s emphasis on forecasting support systems (FSS). A lecturer, consultant, and researcher on FSS, Stavros details what he considers to be the critical improvements required to give our software solutions the stamp of usability, making the user experience (UX) less costly, more productive, and more creative.

Not quite all predictions for our future on this planet fall into the “glum” category. Long-Term Forecasting Editor Ira Sohn offers a review of an amazingly optimistic new book: Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler’s Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think. Ira calls the book a welcome antidote to the prevalence of pessimistic oracularity around us, noting that “the authors exude unconditional confidence and optimism about the next 40 years.” They make the case that science and technology will deliver abundance – “adequate amounts of the basic human needs (water, food, energy, health care, education, and, yes, freedom) – to the less fortunate 85-90% of the planet’s population.”

In our section on Forecast Model Building, Maryam Mohammadipour, John Boylan, and Aris Syntetos offer an authoritative discussion of “The Application of Product-Group Seasonal Indexes to Individual Products.” They show that the forecasting of new or highly variable seasonal products can benefit from the use of aggregate seasonal indexes, such as those for an entire product group. However, they point out that there may be better ways to form product groups for seasonal forecasting than the company’s standard product groupings.

The U.S. presidential election is only months away, a lead time when we can count on “Reliable Forecasts of the 2012 Presidential Election,” according to Foresight’s election expert, Randy Jones. We are constantly “informed” that the race is close, but the different forecasting approaches seem remarkably in agreement on the outcome. And Allan Lichtman’s “never been wrong” model tells us that the question “Does Obama Keep the Keys to the White House?” is an easy call.

The creation of the hemline index by George Taylor in 1926 began the legend that rising hemlines in women’s fashions suggest a rising economy and a bullish market, while a drop in hemlines portends bearishness. Since women’s hemlines are falling to ankle length this year, could this mean that another recession is in the works? Not so, say Marjolein van Baardwijk and Philip Hans Franses of the  Econometric Institute at the Netherlands’ Erasmus School of Economics, whose research seems to finally answer the question “Hemlines and the Economy: Which Goes Down First?”

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About Author

Mike Gilliland

Product Marketing Manager

Michael Gilliland is author of The Business Forecasting Deal (the book), editor of Business Forecasting: Practical Problems and Solutions, and Associate Editor of Foresight: The International Journal of Applied Forecasting. He is a longtime business forecasting practitioner, and currently Product Marketing Manager for SAS Forecasting software. Mike serves on the Board of Directors of the International Institute of Forecasters, and received the 2017 Lifetime Achievement award from the Institute of Business Forecasting. He initiated The Business Forecasting Deal (the blog) to help expose the seamy underbelly of forecasting practice, and to provide practical solutions to its most vexing problems.

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