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Fall 2020

Special Feature

A Modern Retail Forecasting System in Production by Phillip Yelland, Zeynep Erkin Baz and David Serafini
This is a compilation of three articles documenting the large-scale demand-forecasting system developed by U.S. retailer Target. The first two articles in the series described the architecture and design of the system and recounted lessons learned in the development process. The final piece explores the issues that arise when a forecasting system such as Target’s is actually deployed to provide forecasts for users and recommends steps that can be taken to address those issues.

It’s the Soft Problems that Are Hard to Overcome, by Simon Clarke
Response to Commentary of Simon Clarke, by Phillip Yelland and Zeynep Erkin Baz


  1. Dealing with “Deepfakes”: How Synthetic Media Will Distort Reality, Corrupt Data, and Impact Forecasts by John Wood and Nada Sanders
    The authors issue stern warnings in this issue against the insidious threat of deepfakes—the term being a combination of “deep learning” and “fake.” Their article Dealing with “Deepfakes”: How Synthetic Media Will Distort Reality, Corrupt Data, and Impact Forecasts reports that: Machine-learning capabilities are escalating the technology’s sophistication, making deepfakes ever more realistic and increasingly resistant to detection. The implications for communication, data integrity, forecasting, and decision making are vast and unequivocally grim.
  2. U.S. Presidential Election Forecasting: The Economist Model by Colin Lewis-Beck and Michael Lewis-Beck
    In June of this year, The Economist began publishing regular forecasts of the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. In this article, Colin and Michael Lewis-Beck describe the model used, evaluate its potential strengths and weaknesses, and provide many perspectives on election forecasting models in general. They conclude with forecasts of the results of the vote in the upcoming November 3 U.S. presidential election.
  3. Book Review by Ira Sohn
    After Shock: The World’s Foremost Futurists Reflect On 50 Years Of Future Shock
  4. The Benefits of Systematic Forecasting for Organizations: The UFO Project by Spyros Makridakis, Ellen Bonnell, Simon Clarke, Robert Fildes, Michael Gilliland, James Hoover and Len Tashman
    Earlier this year (2020), a group of practitioners and academics began discussions about the practical challenges facing the forecasting field and the need to learn why many organizations have not exploited advances in forecasting knowledge and technology. This fall issue concludes with The Benefits of Systematic Forecasting for Organizations: The UFO Project, the group’s initial assessment of the problem and its plan to better understand what it will take to improve the Usage of Forecasting in Organizations (UFO).
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