Forecasting at Scale

Forecasting at Scale


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Forecasting at Scale: Lessons from the Target Corporation

Forecasting at Scale is a Foresight Guidebook exploring the demands on a forecasting system that arise in large, complex organizations. It presents a case study of how one organization—the Target Corporation—committed to fulfilling these demands by providing nearly one billion forecasts per week to a multifunctional group of users and decision makers.

The requirements of the forecasting system were complex and sweeping:

  • Create and sustain the infrastructure for hosting the system’s software, processing the data, communicating between system components, and generating the forecasts.
  • Develop a forecast modeling approach that balances considerations of accuracy, implementation cost, and explainability.
  • Provide point forecasts and measures of uncertainty for 1 to 52 weeks ahead at each hierarchical level, down to item by store.
  • Account for the impacts of dozens of drivers of product sales, including promotions and market and product characteristics.
  • Accommodate the “big data” domain (e.g., an input data size around 20 terabytes for the full product line).

The Guidebook’s chapters explain and illustrate the processes and models Target created to meet these imposing demands, along with an outside commentary and response.

Published January 2021, 54 pages, PDF format.

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