Preview of Foresight (Fall 2020)

Len Tashman
Len Tashman (before the snowstorm)

After a day out shoveling snow from a freak early September storm, here is editor-in-chief Len Tashman's preview of the Fall 2020 issue of Foresight: The International Journal of Applied Forecasting.

Preview of Foresight (Fall 2020)

The Fall 2020 issue of Foresight—number 59 since inception in 2005—features the final installment of a three-part article on the forecasting system and practices at the Target Corporation. The senior author of the series is Phillip Yelland, Principal Data Scientist at Target. The first two contributions described the architecture and design of the system and recounted lessons learned in the development process. This last segment, A Modern Retail Forecasting System in Production, explores the challenges that arise and steps to be taken when a forecasting system such as Target’s is actually deployed to provide forecasts for users.

This third installment is followed by a Commentary from Simon Clarke, who argues that It’s the Soft Problems that Are Hard to Overcome, and in turn by a response from the Target team.

Our latest book review from Long-Range Forecasting Editor Ira Sohn is of After Shock, in which The World’s Foremost Futurists Reflect on 50 Years of Future Shock. The volume is a collection of essays and commentaries that look back upon Alvin Toffler’s original best-selling opus from 1970, including in the fields of AI, economics, health, technology, and academia.

Speaking of AI, John Wood and Nada Sanders issue stern warnings in this issue against the insidious threat of deepfakes—the term being a combination of “deep learning” and “fake.” Their article Dealing with “Deepfakes”: How Synthetic Media Will Distort Reality, Corrupt Data, and Impact Forecasts reports that

Machine-learning capabilities are escalating the technology’s sophistication, making deepfakes ever more realistic and increasingly resistant to detection. The implications for communication, data integrity, forecasting, and decision making are vast and unequivocally grim.

With the looming November elections in the U.S., vote forecasting is again in high gear. A new and very sophisticated methodological entry comes from The Economist. Here, Colin and Michael Lewis-Beck examine the strengths and weaknesses of The Economist Model, and provide their perspectives on the various types of election-forecasting models.

UFO ProjectEarlier this year, a group of practitioners and academics began discussions about the practical challenges facing the forecasting field and the need to learn why many organizations have not exploited advances in forecasting knowledge and technology. This fall issue concludes with The Benefits of Systematic Forecasting for Organizations: The UFO Project, the group’s initial assessment of the problem and its plan to better understand what it will take to improve the Usage of Forecasting in Organizations (UFO).

The 2020 Foresight Virtual Practitioner Conference

Reserve December 2, 2020 for our virtual conference on Integrated Business Planning and Forecasting: Innovations to Drive Profitable Growth. It’s free to IIF members and $125 for non-members, the price of a one-year membership. See our announcement on the inside front cover and review program and registration details at


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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