“Predictive statements are all around us, ” writes Adam Gordon in the introduction to his book Future Savvy. “[I]n the newspapers, on TV, at conference presentations, in industry reports, consulting documents, think tank studies, and so on. All claim to be valid, but the record shows that few are.” This doesn’t mean, however, that forecasts can’t play a critical role in your decision-making process. You just need the right tools to evaluate what Gordon calls the “torrent of information.”

Future Savvy starts with the analytical basics by placing forecasts into five categories: short-term, short-medium, long-medium, long-term and ultra-long term. According to Gordon, the actual timeframes for each depend on an industry’s general rate of change. “For example,” he notes, “the electronics industry moves much faster than the mining industry, so a three-year forecast for ‘wi-fi’ may be long-term view, while a three-year view of the Canadian mining industry might be a short-term view.”

His subsequent discussion covers topics like bias traps, the powers of zeitgeist and perception and the limits of quantitative forecasting before arriving at a helpful list of questions to ask of any prognostication. Subject headings include:

What is the purpose of the forecast?
Is the forecast mode predictive—spelling out what will happen—or speculative, illuminating possible alternative?
How extensive and how good is the base data?
Are the forecast’s biases natural or intentional?
Does the forecast oversimplify the world?

Your Marketing Inspiration: By asking the right questions, you’ll get the right answers for using a forecast as a valuable tool for adjusting or changing your strategies.

Source: MarketingProfs newsletter, 10/31/08

Cheers, Skip