October 6, 2020
EXCEL Vs. AI driven smart forecasting
If Aladdin owned a company, the Genie probably does the sales forecasting, and they certainly would nail every single quarter!
Forecasting the future is arguably the most important task of any company. Good forecasts lead to great future growth, and help companies embrace better business visibility. However, it is not an easy task; you have to think about various aspects of the business, as well as have good industry experience. It can also take hours to come up with a good forecast. And you could still end up with a result that is way off than the actual situation.
Manual forecasts are a thing of the past.
Part of the problem is the tool used for forecasting. For almost two decades, business analysts have been relying on Microsoft Excel. Functions, formulas, filters, VLOOKUPs, conditions, multiple sheets, tables, undo-history, and hidden tricks make things way too complicated, time-consuming, and ever so often, frustrating. You’ve probably watched many YouTube videos on Excel help but still found yourself helpless. Familiar with situations when you know you made a calculation error but didn’t know where?
Excel by design is not a tool used for forecasting. Although it is a digital calculator on steroids, its capabilities fall far short from what is expected of a dedicated forecasting system. After spending significant time on cleaning your data on Excel, you are required to manually enter the functions and equations, and work on a step-by-step process. Things could get messy if you have to handle a large number of columns and rows in multiple sheets, which can lead to a lot of human error even to the most experienced Excel user. Above all, this process could take long hours, if not days, to complete, which makes Excel a very inefficient tool for forecasting.
The most important element the modern world requires for accurate forecasts is Artificial Intelligence (AI). All e-commerce giants such as Amazon, and large grocery stores like Walmart, and fast-food chains such as McDonald’s are able to play their A-game because they are backed by Artificial Intelligence-driven sales predictions. While Excel has implemented AI into the software, it plays a very basic role and its functionality for forecasting use-cases are pretty much non-existent. So why must you still stick with manual statistical calculations on Excel?
You probably use Excel for forecasts because it is the most readily available software on your computer. Moving averages, built-in regressions, and trendlines can only give you a directional sense to your forecasts, but not the numbers you should expect in the actual world. And if you need to incorporate an external variable into your data (such as rainfall, exchange rate, public holidays), you will have to spend an endless amount of time working on just that. Things can get more tedious and time-consuming if you have to plan your inventory after doing your forecasts on Excel.
An AI-based forecast system, on the other hand, has the ability to achieve very high accuracies on dynamic forecasts, regardless of the number of external variables you include. And the best part is, it delivers results in minutes, not hours and days. Artificial Intelligence is able to notice the smallest of patterns, shapes, and relationships in your data. It can train itself on historical data and give you a forecast based on the future conditions you provide. In the most basic terms, it is like a brain that studies the data extremely deeply. So how do you harness the power of AI for accurate predictions, without taking a degree in AI or hiring a Data Science team?
Introducing… a tool that can see the future so well, it’s got 2021 vision!
This is where FORECAST² comes in to play. Using clever Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence algorithms, FORECAST² is able to hand you a prediction that is more accurate than most manual forecasts, in a matter of a few minutes. And all this happens in your internet browser, so you don’t have to worry about installing stuff on your devices. All you have to do is feed in your historical data and any variables that you think might impact your forecasts (weather, exchange rates, inflation, public holidays).
What if you think the coming year will go crazy (like that has never happened before)? Test it out! Using the “What-if” feature in FORECAST², you can adjust your variables to simulate a hypothetical scenario to see how your sales or product demand can change.
Price change? See how the sales react.
Think the exchange rate might go up? See how your product demand changes.
All this in a matter of a few clicks!
“You ain’t never had a friend like me 🎶”
FORECAST² is here to be your best friend in the business. Don’t get us wrong, Excel is an awesome tool, but the present markets and industries are too volatile that you can’t afford to be spending hours doing manual forecasts when you should actually be taking smart actions based on accurate forecasts. The best part is, you don’t have to know anything about Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence!