Note from Len Tashman, Editor

Foresight’s Winter 2017 issue showcases a broad range of incisive and entertaining pieces. Inside, we take a look at new research on the effectiveness of collaboration in forecasting and planning, fresh perspectives on our “forecasting paradigm,” a commendable new textbook on forecasting for managers, and a road map for harmonizing research and practice.

Our feature article, “Recoupling the Forecasting and Stock-Control Processes,” is by Aris Syntetos and Steve Morlidge. The problem with the application of forecasting to inventory, the authors say, is that too often, the forecasting process is decoupled from the stock control process. In consequence, critical errors are often made in the calculation of safety-stock requirements—mistakes readily corrected with better communication among forecasters, inventory controllers, and suppliers of the software in use.

In this issue’s Hot New Research Column, Paul Goodwin reviews recent studies on the conditions for and challenges of successful collaboration in forecasting and planning. Among his observations: Collaboration sounds like a win-win situation and many research papers provide evidence of significant gains from it in organizational performance. But developing a collaborative scheme can require major changes in the ways that participating organizations go about their business. Success is never guaranteed, so the costs of implementing collaborative arrangements need to be carefully weighed against the expected benefits.

Foresight Associate Editor Stephan Kolassa has teamed up with Professor Enno Siemsen, Executive Director of the Erdman Center for Operations and Technology Management at the University of Wisconsin, to write the newly published volume, Demand Forecasting for Managers. The authors aim their presentation at the non-expert, such as a manager overseeing a forecasting group, or an MBA student not specializing in analytics. You’ll find two reviews here, one by an academic and the other by a practitioner.

The 2016 Foresight Practitioner Conference was held in October in partnership with the Institute for Advanced Analytics at North Carolina State University. The theme was “Worst Practices in Forecasting: Today’s Mistakes to Tomorrow’s Breakthroughs.” Foresight Editor for Forecasting Practice Mike Gilliland delivered the keynote address, which has now been expanded into his article Changing the Paradigm for Business Forecasting. Forecasting philosopher, David Orrell, provides an insightful commentary on the Gilliland article.

In the Spring 2016 issue, we printed a note from Sujit Singh describing a gap between what business wants and needs forecasters to do and what researchers spend their time examining. We followed that with a feature section in the Summer 2016 issue that offered more than a half-dozen perspectives, from academics and practitioners, on why the gap exists and what it might take to close it. Now Robert Fildes, founder of the Lancaster Centre for Forecasting, takes a deeper look at the limited reach to date of Research to Improve Forecasting Practice. Fildes’ article is followed by a commentary offered by Tom Willemain, cofounder of SmartSoftware, who asserts that closing the gap isn’t hopeless, but it will require new mind-sets among all the players.

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