Tom Wallace (1935-2021)

Tom Wallace photo
Tom Wallace

We learned this week of the passing of one of the giants in our field, Tom Wallace.

Tom was as gracious and fine a gentleman as you'll meet. Through his writing, teaching, and consulting work -- in frequent collaboration with Bob Stahl -- tens of thousands of industry practitioners have been influenced worldwide. Myself included.

I first met Tom at an Institute of Business Forecasting conference in Phoenix in the late 2000s. In 2010 he contributed a Foreword to The Business Forecasting Deal, and I was honored to have such star power associated with my book. I wrote in the Acknowledgments,

When the publisher asked me for Tom's job title and company, I was aghast -- that was like asking Cher or Madonna for their title and company! Most of us in the planning and forecasting fields would agree that Tom is just as much a celebrity as Cher or Madonna -- even if he doesn't have quite as fabulous a wardrobe.

Tom ended his Foreword by kindly stating, "I wish I had written this book." This is, curiously, exactly what I said to myself upon the 2002 publication of Tom and Bob's Sales Forecasting: A New Approach -- a book with near perfect alignment to my suspicions on the topic.

Cover of Sales ForecastingThis book's treatment of the forecasting problem is completely unlike anything I'd seen before (or since). Its guidance is eminently realistic and practical, including points like these:

  • Bias is a forecast that's wrong on purpose...bias is almost always caused by factors outside the forecasting process... strive for zero bias .
  • The best way to eliminate forecast error is to eliminate the need to forecast.
  • Focus on process improvement, not forecast accuracy.

If you haven't read this before, please take a look now.

Thank you Tom, for everything you gave us.


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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