Are you forecasting or predicting?

Are you forecasting or predicting your outcomes and goals for the next week, month and quarter? How well are you hitting your target?

We took a look at two flows in the retail world and field operations. Just to learn more about the difference between forecasting and predictions.

We all use Excel sheets and spreadsheets to keep track of our resources, expenses and incomes. They It provides us with a clear picture of our status. In addition, we can add a factor and drag our rows and columns to forecast what’s expected. Roughly.
However, with big data come big requirements from the organizations we serve. The expectations today are to move from estimations to spot- on numbers and from forecasting to accurate predictions.

Unfortunately, spreadsheets can accumulate tons of data sets and data points, but they don’t provide a clear enough view narrowed down to one barcode item nor a wide view of how to allocate resources and exact stock requirements.

In the retail world, the outcomes are that retailers can overstock by up to 20%. And more so, creating chain expenses like:

– Un optimized floor space usage
– High storage costs in shopping centers and mall
– High inner-store transportation costs to move stock from one point of sale to another
– Operating secondary shops and outlets

For field and operation services, these issues appear in a different manner yet still in the same ballpark of 15% expenses that could be decreased:

Call center and customer support staffing: predict the number and type of assistance that will be required along with their expected time in every shift.
– Predict and plan field service routes and minimize outsourcing of technicians.
– Provide every field service representative with the optimized route by adjusting the service calls they need to attend to the route they receive.
– Order the most accurate number of devices and parts the field service teams will need week over week and save on costs and storage as well as packing up the technicians vans.

Throughout the past 12 years, Amir and I have been working on huge data analytics initives. We serve banks, retailers, telecom companies, flight, transportation, pharmaceuticals and nearly any industry from mid size corporations and up.

For us, predictive analytics as a service is a dream come true. It allows us to offer our customers a new type of success, exceeding their KPIs month over month without taking “extra” and costly bandwidth and room for error.

We moved from helping retailers and operation teams forecast and estimate the above circumstances and outcomes, to accurately predicting them. We moved from playing safe to exceeding KPIs. And most important, we are able to help the teams we serve shine and grow. Are you taking “Extras” into account? Extra workforce, extra stock, extra storage space, extra transportation resources, and extra staff on shifts? That means you are forecasting.

Also, in retrospection of your planning – were these extras all used up? If not – you were forecasting.

When companies predict, they eliminate room for error and enable faster decision making and more accurate results. Not just through stocking up and staffing but through transforming data into knowledge. And knowledge into profit.

Nili Goldberg

Author Nili Goldberg

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