2ND ANNUAL forLAB FORECASTING WORKSHOP 2016
All you need to know about Forecasting!
The 2nd annual forLAB forecasting workshop took place on the 25th of April, 2016 at the Pontio, Prifysgol Bangor University. The event was co-sponsored by Inside Welsh Industry (IWI), forLAB and Pontio, Bangor University. Those who attended included academics from the UK and Greece, representatives from Welsh businesses, most as guests of IWI, PhD students and members of the Institute for Competition and Procurement Studies (ICPS).
In the opening speech, the host of the event and Director of forLAB, Professor Kostantinos (Kostas) Nikolopoulos stated that 5 years ago forLAB was founded with a mission to advance research in forecasting and strategic thinking. Primarily, forLAB aspires to inform academics, practitioners and policy makers on how to advance the process of:
a) Preparing an accurate set of forecasts,
b) Communicating the uncertainty around these forecasts, and
c) Efficiently employing (a) and (b) so as to take informed strategic decisions.
To this end, several projects are being undertaken by forLAB to offer solutions to the forecasting and strategy needs of organisations and businesses.
Forecasting is essential to all organisations as it helps management in its attempts to cope with the uncertainty of the future by making predictions based on data from the past and present. Producing analysis of trends and quantifying the uncertainty surrounding them. Thus, ensuring that organisations are prepared for the best and worst case scenarios.
According to Professor Kostas, there are 3 important aspects to forecasting namely: data, methods/software and expertise. Based on their specific needs, organisations may be required to advance and improve any or all of these three areas. Professor Kostas added that one challenge for businesses is in collating data in a format that can be used easily. The dynamics of operations across the various departments of some organisations make it difficult to gather reliable data. Whereas, a reliable data is needed to inform forecasting and strategy. In addition, it has been observed that some organisations keep little or no data to inform forecasting and strategy.
In his presentation, Dr Fotios Petropoulos an Assistant Professor in Logistics and Operations Management at Cardiff Business School highlighted the methods that can be used to advance forecasting. He discussed ARIMA methods, HOLTS’ methods, Simple linear regression, the Theta method, and so on. On a lighter note, Dr Fotios Petropoulos stated that forecasting has very strong roots in Greece based on an essay written long ago by Plutarch, in the first century AD, titled ‘’The E at Delphi’’. This claim was reiterated by Professor Dimitiros Thomakos of Eurobank SA and University of Greece. The excerpt below from Plutarch’s essay which was featured in Professor Thomakos’ presentation, appears to be sufficient justification for this claim.
The god, moreover, is prognostikos (a forecaster), and the art of prognosis (forecasting) concerns the future that is to result from things present and past. For there is nothing of which either the origin is without cause or the foreknowledge thereof without reason; but since all present events follow in close conjunction with past events, and all future events follow in close conjunction with present events, in accordance with a regular procedure…
On the practical side of forecasting, Rach Lear, Head of Planning and Control from SIEMENS gave an excellent and highly illustrative presentation of forecasting in action (as implemented during a forLAB project). The presentation described the benefits of utilising current knowledge on analytics and forecasting, and how that then introduced substantial cost savings for Siemens. This was particularly illuminating for the attendees who found the ‘harder’ side of the forecasting methods difficult to grasp.
Attendees were guided on a tour to the Lab where many of their questions regarding each of their own unique needs were discussed. Feedback from the attendees, over lunch, was very positive. And all gained some insight into how collaborating with forLAB and utilising forecasting and analytics could provide a positive impact for their own organisation.
Important lessons of the day which were reiterated by all the speakers included the need to:
- Understand that forecasting is complex but can be made simple with the right approach for the individual company
- Have substantial knowledge of the subject matter
- Know the data
- Know the forecasting factors
- Constantly improve the forecasting methods for best results
- Evaluate and explain results, and
- Practice and improve the art
The event was a huge success and we are certain that next year will also be amazing!
For more images linked to the event, please take a look at the attachments (.jpeg files) within this news item.
Publication date: 12 May 2016