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IT Research:

The Forecasting Report

A Comparative Survey of Commercial Forecasting Systems

Language: English
Pages: 646
Published: September 1999

This report ist available as multi-user online document

See order form for price!


About the report

You have solved the Y2K problem? Time to solve the next one! Forecasting!

What is forecasting?

You are confronted with the need to develop your company's plans for the future and you come up against the mystifying concept of forecasting. In the past forecasting seemed unimportant but with increasing competition in the market precise plans are essential for survival. But how to improve forecasts? How do I forecast? Maybe the crystal ball might help? The answer is obviously no. Behind the word forecasting are a number of sophisticated methods that provide reliable forecasts for the future.

How do I forecast?

Now, there is no need to worry. The time has past when mathematicians had to spend endless weeks calculating and computing. A number of sophisticated computer programs have been developed to do the work for you! With the speed of today's computers forecasts are quickly calculated. If you want to change your forecasts from guesses to reliable statements then they will help.

What do I need?

Your company has started to set up an information system or something like a data warehouse and now you wonder what to do with all these figures. Use them for good planning! There is software to extrapolate your data into the future: forecasting software! Plug it into your information system and start planning!

How do I find forecasting software?

Help is at hand: we have done the work for you. If you know what type of planning you need to undertake, then this report will help to resolve your confusion by identifying which of the range of forecasting software products will help you to get there. There are many different types of forecasting software systems, but if you know where you are and where you want to get to, you will find the right system!

How do I proceed?

Read the report and you will find the answers! This report has been prepared with your needs in mind and concentrates on what the systems really can do and what they cannot! We have experience in using forecasting software and give you the opportunity to benefit from our expertise. It will certainly save you a lot of time otherwise spent reading endless advertising brochures which do not always help.

Forecast your plans for the future! Don't guess them!

Systems Analysed in Detail

The study provides detailed information about 3/4 of the forecasting systems currently on the market. In total 43 systems have been analysed in detail and classified into five different categories:

  • Pure Forecasting Systems
  • Statistical Packages with‚strong' forecasting functionality
  • Integrated Planning and Forecasting Systems
  • Econometric Systems
  • Libraries for Time Series Analysis and Forecasting

The following systems have been included:

ADAPTA DLS-FBS, AGSS, AIDA, APPS, astra 2.0, Autobox, Beta, Demand Solutions, DrPro++, EViews, FANPAC, FORCE 4, Forecast Pro XE, FORMAN, Futurmaster, Genstat, LOGOL, Microfit 4.0, microTrend & microForecast, Minitab, NCSS, PC-Give Professional, PEER Planner, RATS, S-Plus, SAS, SCA, SKEP, Smart Forecast, Soritec, SPSS Trends, SSATS 2.0, Statgraphics, Statistica, System A3, Time Series (TS) GAUSS Library, Time Series Expert, Time Trends, TSM, tsMetrix, TSP 4.4, TURBO Spring-Stat, UNISTAT.

In addition the report gives short descriptions of systems whose vendors did not fill out the questionnaire and did not provide detailed information.

Who Should Read this Research Report?

  • Marketing managers, product managers, sales planers, production and operation managers, operation research managers, as well as market researchers and general business planners who focus on the optimal control of inventory, production, logistics, and purchasing, as well as medium and long term forecasting for strategic and operational planning for one or more years.
  • Financial and economic analysts in the private and public sector who concentrate on the analysis and forecasting of financial and economic quantities such as interest rates, share prices, volatility, gross national product, and growth of production in economic sectors.
  • IT professionals who are interested in forecasting systems either as IT planners, software designers, or programmers, who are concerned with adapting a forecasting system and implementing interfaces to the information system of their company.
  • Software houses who are considering augmenting their current product range by including recently developed forecasting systems.
  • Consultants who are responsible for supporting management in the selection and implementation of the best planning and forecasting software for their customers.
  • Developers of forecasting software who would like to know about features and alternative solutions which have already been implemented successfully in other systems.
  • Vendors of forecasting systems who are eager to know their competitive position in the market.

The Authors

Ulrich Küsters

  • Ulrich Küsters studied Business Administration and Mathematics with a major in planning and organisation at the University of Wuppertal from 1977 to 1983. In 1986 he received a Ph.D. in applied statistics with a thesis on latent and qualitative variable models. In 1991 he obtained his habilitation (qualification for a lecturer in a German university) in statistics and system information science with a thesis on the development of rule based expert systems.
  • His industrial activities started in 1989 when he worked on automatic data analysis systems for econometric forecasting at the IBM Science Centre in Pisa, Italy. Between 1992 and 1994 he worked as a Senior Consultant and then as a Chief Designer for Information Systems at the IBM Science Centre in Heidelberg, Germany. There he was mainly responsible for the development of sales planning and forecasting systems.
  • Since 1994 he is Full Professor at the Chair of Statistics and Quantitative Methods in the Department of Business Administration at the Catholic University of Eichstätt, Germany. His major research topics are the integration of planning and forecasting methodologies, the application of well established forecasting techniques, automatic forecasting and outlier detection including monitors to track early deviations between data, forecasts and plans. Recent research covers topics such as Bayesian forecasting methodologies to integrate subjective evaluations within the forecasting process as well as predictive data mining techniques such as discriminant analysis and modern classification approaches such as classification trees.
  • Prof. Küsters also advises industrial and trading companies, and the public sector, on the application of modern forecasting approaches to practical problems. This includes the development of computer-based customised solutions and in-depth surveys of forecasting software systems as well as matrix programming languages.

Michael Bell

  • In 1991-92 Michael Bell studied Economics in Leeds before he moved to the Catholic University of Eichstätt to study Business Administration with majors in production management and system information science. During his studies he has worked for Siemens Automation Technology in Nuernberg and Hypo-Capital-Management in Luxembourg, where he implemented an information system for portfolio analysis. He has also advised a cosmetics company about their information system.
  • Since obtaining his degree as a Diplom-Kaufmann in 1997 he is employed as a Research Assistant at the Chair of Statistics and Quantitative Methods in the Department of Business Administration at the Catholic University of Eichstätt. In addition to comparing forecasting and planning systems in depth he conducts research into rule based expert systems for optimal specification of forecasting models, and the combination of forecasts as part of his work towards a Ph.D. in busines administration.

Table of content


Table of Contents

1 Main Issues of the Report S.13

  • 1.1 Target Groups for Forecasting Systems
  • 1.2 The Process of Collecting Information: Overview
  • 1.3 Sources of Addresses
  • 1.4 Selection of Relevant Systems
  • 1.5 Sources of Information
  • 1.6 A Remark on the Market of Forecasting Systems

2 General Classification and Short Guide to Forecasting Systems S.23

  • 2.1 Which System for Which Purpose
    • 2.1.1 Operations and Forecasting
    • 2.1.2 Planning and Forecasting
    • 2.1.3 Research and Forecasting
  • 2.2 Time Series Features
    • 2.2.1 Periodicity
    • 2.2.2 Length of Time Series
    • 2.2.3 Time Series Components
    • 2.2.4 Explanatory Variables and Calendar Effects
    • 2.2.5 Subjective Interventions
  • 2.3 Classification of Time Series Methods
    • 2.3.1 Auto-projective Methods (Extrapolation)
    • 2.3.2 Causal Models (Regression)
  • 2.4 Different Aspects of Forecasting Systems
    • 2.4.1 Pure Forecasting Systems versus Planning Systems
    • 2.4.2 Pure Forecasting Systems versus General Statistical Systems
    • 2.4.3 Pure Forecasting Systems versus General Econometric Systems
    • 2.4.4 Single Time Series versus Batch Forecasting
    • 2.4.5 Manual versus Automatic Forecast Modelling
    • 2.4.6 Forecasting Methods: Heuristically Based versus Statistically Based Methods
    • 2.4.7 User Interface: Graphical User Interface versus Command Language
    • 2.4.8 Interfaces to Databases and External Sources of Data
    • 2.4.9 System Complexity
    • 2.4.10 Pricing
    • 2.4.11 A Subjective Scoring Scheme
    • 2.4.12 Graphical Representations of Important Features

3 Product Descriptions S.59

  • 3.1 Forecasting Systems
    • 3.1.1 AIDA - automatic forecasting system
    • 3.1.2 astra 2.0
    • 3.1.3 Autobox
    • 3.1.4 DrPro++
    • 3.1.5 FORCE 4
    • 3.1.6 Forecast Pro XE
    • 3.1.7 FORMAN
    • 3.1.8 FuturMaster
    • 3.1.9 microTrend & microForecast
    • 3.1.10 SCA
    • 3.1.11 Smart Forecast
    • 3.1.12 Time Trends
    • 3.1.13 Time Series Expert (TSE)
    • 3.1.14 tsMetrix
  • 3.2 Statistical Packages
    • 3.2.1 AGSS
    • 3.2.2 Genstat
    • 3.2.3 Minitab
    • 3.2.4 NCSS
    • 3.2.5 S-Plus
    • 3.2.6 SAS
    • 3.2.7 SPSS Trends
    • 3.2.8 Statgraphics
    • 3.2.9 Statistica
    • 3.2.10 TURBO Spring-Stat
    • 3.2.11 UNISTAT
  • 3.3 Planning and Forecasting Systems
    • 3.3.1 ADAPTA DLS - FBS
    • 3.3.2 APPS
    • 3.3.3 Demand Solutions
    • 3.3.4 LOGOL
    • 3.3.5 PEER Planner
    • 3.3.6 SKEP
    • 3.3.7 System A3
  • 3.4 Econometric Systems S.138
    • 3.4.1 Beta
    • 3.4.2 EViews
    • 3.4.3 Microfit 4.0
    • 3.4.4 PC-Give Professional
    • 3.4.5 RATS
    • 3.4.6 Soritec
    • 3.4.7 TSP 4.4
  • 3.5 Libraries
    • 3.5.1 FANPAC
    • 3.5.2 SSATS 2.0
    • 3.5.3 Time Series (TS) GAUSS Library
    • 3.5.4 TSM

4 Results of the Questionnaire with Comments S.163

  • 4.1 Hardware Platform and Operating System (Section 1)
  • 4.2 Forecasting Techniques and Related Methods (Section 2)
    • 4.2.1 Naive forecasting techniques/ benchmark forecasting (Question 2.1)
    • 4.2.2 Growth Curves (Section 2.2)
    • 4.2.3 Decomposition methods (Section 2.3)
    • 4.2.4 Exponential Smoothing (Section 2.4)
    • 4.2.5 Static and Dynamic Regression (Section 2.5)
    • 4.2.6 Box-Jenkins (Section 2.6)
    • 4.2.7 Forecast Combinations (Section 2.7)
    • 4.2.8 Other Analysis and Forecasting Approaches (Section 2.8)
    • 4.2.9 Evaluation of Residuals, Forecasts, and Forecast Errors (Section 2.9)
    • 4.2.10 Forecasting Formula (Section 2.10)
  • 4.3 Database, User Interface, Graphics, and Reports (Section 3)
    • 4.3.1 Data Handling and Databases (Section 3.1)
    • 4.3.2 User Interface (Section 3.2)
    • 4.3.3 Graphics (Section 3.3)
    • 4.3.4 Log Files and Reports (Section 3.4)
  • 4.4 Special Features
    • 4.4.1 Calendar Data and Special Effects (Section 4.1)
    • 4.4.2 Missing Values (Section 4.2)
    • 4.4.3 Short Series, New Product Forecasts, Fashion Wear Forecasts, and Sporadic Demand (Section 4.3)
    • 4.4.4 Product Hierarchies (Section 4.4)
    • 4.4.5 Automatic Forecasting Systems (Section 4.5)
    • 4.4.6 Forecast Adjustment and Handling of Subjective Knowledge (Section 4.6)
    • 4.4.7 Planning (Section 4.7)
  • 4.5 Issues on System Installation
    • 4.5.1 System Installation (Section 5.1)
    • 4.5.2 Systems Stability and Bugs (Sections 5.2 and 5.3)
  • 4.6 Documentation, Support, and User Profile
    • 4.6.1 Documentation and Online-Help Facilities (Section 6.1)
    • 4.6.2 Online and Internet Support (Section 6.2)

5 Do's and Dont's S.555

6 Appendix S.559

  • 6.1 References to the Sources of Information
  • 6.2 Distributors
  • 6.3 Prices of Selected Systems
  • 6.4 Forecasting Software not Included to the Survey
  • 6.5 Output Samples of Beta and Autobox

7 Abbreviations S.607

  • 7.1 General Abbreviations
  • 7.2 Abbreviations of Names of Systems

8 References S.613

  • 8.1 General Introductory References to Forecasting
  • 8.2 References to the Research and Systems Literature

Subject Index S.625

List of Figures and Tables S,.637

Feedback S.639

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