What Will 2007 Hold for Printing Shipments?
The recent bullish rise in industry shipments has changed the outlook in our different forecasting models for 2007 and 2008. Forecasting is sometimes viewed as guesswork or a black art, but there are numerous tools that forecasters use, and we use as many as we can find. Through the years, we have found that the use of statistical models helps to focus the discussion and immersion in anecdotal accounts are used to enrich prognostications.
Every day, we review forecasts, and sometimes we joke there are often more forecasts than there are real data. There is one aspect of forecasts that continually befuddles us: the “consensus forecast.” This means that someone has taken all of the forecasts that were available and averaged them together. If there were true consensus, the forecasts would not have to be gathered in the first place. And if forecasting was something important, why would one want to average a bunch of bad forecasts together hoping that something good would come of it. One can’t make a good stew with tainted meat and rotting vegetables.
Forecasts that are statistical in nature use historical data to forecast the future. The data are just numbers that resulted from business activities at a particular point in time. The conditions of that time are probably different than what will be in the future. While all trends have historical roots, it is much too simplistic to just extend past trends into the future. There’s something comforting about “predicting the past.” It ignores that marketplaces, in the long term, are dynamic. There is one benefit, however.
When in high positions, executives can find it difficult to distance themselves from the daily heat of the corporate battle. Some managers fall into a habit of assuming the last thing that they heard was correct and was the most important thing they will hear affecting their business.