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Data Science Book Review: The Business Forecasting Deal

July 24, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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9780470574430.pdfThere are not many books on forecasting. Even less good books. The Business Forecasting Deal, by Michael Gilliland, is one of them. The book is among the rare ones providing real practical advices for professionals. No theory, no equation, no code. The book focuses on typical forecasting challenges, misconceptions and issues when deploying processes into production. The main point of the author is not to spend to much effort on forecasting, but rather on implementing and deploying those forecasts into the company.

Gilliland’s book, targeted to business users, is a complement to other technical books such as Forecasting: Principles and Practices (Hyndman and Athanasopoulos) and practical ones such as Future Ready (Morlidge and Player). Although practical, The Business Forecasting Deal discusses very specific issues in forecasting such as worst practices and forecasting without history.

The main concept of the book is the so called Forecast Value Added (FVA). The point of Gilliland is that forecasts are useful only when they add something to a naive prediction (last value, average, etc.). If your forecast isn’t better than a naive one, why spend time and resources on it? Common measures such as MAPE (Mean Absolute Percentage Error) aren’t enough as they don’t provide an indication of how much better/worse than a naive forecast you are.

Gilliland always mentions MAPE as a limited way of measuring forecasting accuracy. However, practitioners should know a better way of measuring accuracy: Mean Absolute Scaled Error (MASE). Advised by Hyndman (article here), it implicitly includes a naive forecast within the equation to create a useful accuracy metric. For me, it looks like FVA is another name for existing metrics such as MASE. Hopefully, the FVA is more than just an equation. It’s a full methodology allowing to reduce inefficiencies in the overall forecasting process. The book concludes with a large Q&A section which is often repetitive of the book content.

The Business Forecasting Deal is an excellent book containing plenty of sound advices for forecasting practitioners. Gilliland did an excellent job in summarizing challenges and issues in forecasting, and providing related solutions. In complement to an introductory business book and a technical one, it will allow you to integrate forecasting within your company and gain the best of it.

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Data Science Book Review: Data Smart

June 21, 2016 by · 2 Comments
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DSmartIf you want to get started with Data Science and don’t like learning a new language such as R or Python, then this book is a perfect fit for you. Entertaining, Data Smart: Using Data Science to Transform Information into Insight approaches data science from a unusual angle. John W. Foreman has written a book for those who wants to apply… Continue reading... | 2 Comments

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Gradient Boosting Machine – A Brief Introduction

June 1, 2016 by · 4 Comments
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treesOne of the Predictive Analytics projects I am working on at Expedia uses Gradient Boosting Machine (GBM). This is currently one of the state of the art algorithms in Machine Learning. This article provides insights on how to get started and advices for further readings.

I will now focus on the use of GBM for regression, based on decision trees… Continue reading... | 4 Comments

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Data Science Book Review: An Introduction to Statistical Learning

May 12, 2016 by · 1 Comment
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ISLWithout any suspense, “An Introduction to Statistical Learning” (ISL) by James, Witten, Hastie and Tibshirani is a key book in the Data Science literature. I would summarize it as a book written by statisticians for non-statisticians. Indeed, while the book “The Elements of Statistical Learning” was heavy on theory and equations, ISL is the practical counterpart. The book is very clear… Continue reading... | 1 Comment

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5 Ways in which Data is Empowering Consumers

April 11, 2016 by · 5 Comments
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This is a guest post from William Blears, Founder of Perceptive Digital.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how data is driving online marketing forward. What you don’t often hear is how this same data is empowering customers to make wiser purchasing decisions. I thought it’d be interesting to highlight five ways in which empowered consumers can benefit from an abundance of available data.

#1. Considering… Continue reading... | 5 Comments

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Book Review: Automate This

April 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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Automate-ThisAutomate This is a journey into the world of anything that can be automated, from stock picking to medical diagnosis. The author, Christopher Steiner, excels in telling stories and bringing interesting anecdotes to the reader. Although focused on the trading world, the book explores topics such as automated music creation, geopolitical analysis and poker playing.

Automate This is about the… Continue reading...

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IoT and Analytics

March 6, 2016 by · 23 Comments
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IoT and Analytics, April 13th, Lausanne. Event organized by the Swiss Association for Analytics. More information and free subscription at http://meetu.ps/e/Bl61H/mgXJj/d… Continue reading... | 23 Comments

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