Forecasting is an important area of work for us here at SAS, for all that we don’t very often shout about it. SAS Visual Forecasting is the flagship forecasting product in SAS Viya, and it’s something that we know a lot of our customers value. As we are committed to keep investing and innovating in that space, we are happy to say that we are once again sponsoring the’ International Symposium on Forecasting’ (ISF) this year which will take place June 25-28 in Charlottesville, Virginia. But what am I looking forward to most at the event? Here’s my rundown of what I’m most excited about.
1. The opportunity to meet with top academics, executives and experts
Since the pandemic, I think very few of us will ever take for granted the chance to meet people face-to-face and talk about shared interests. I always enjoy talking to people at ISF because attendees are among the best forecasting experts and pioneers in the field. It is a technical conference and there are usually top academics, c-suite executives, and senior practitioners. I find discussions tend to focus on how to use advanced forecasting techniques to support strategic business decisions—and it’s great to see how many businesses are becoming fully data-driven.
2. Hearing the latest from the SAS Research and Development team
It should be possible to keep up with everything that’s going on in SAS—but somehow there is never quite enough time. Going to events like ISF allows me to catch up with developments from our R&D team, and hear all about the next generation of products and services. This time, Mahesh Joshi will be talking about applying forecasting to healthcare data, Taiyeong Lee will be discussing fast autotuning of the RNN family of models on parallel and distributed architectures, and Nilesh Jakhotiya will be giving an overview of scalable cloud-based global reconciliation. It should be a fascinating session.
3. Showcasing examples of the use of forecasting in different industries and verticals
We don’t always get the chance to celebrate and showcase our customers’ use of forecasting, or explain how the technology can be applied in different industries or verticals. I’m excited that we will have an opportunity to get an overview of SAS Visual Forecasting from Joe Katz, our Forecasting Product Manager, and then follow it up with information from Arnie de Castro, the Energy Forecasting Product Manager, on energy forecasting as a service, and Charlie Chase on forecasting in Retail and CPG.
4. Giving customers and potential customers a chance to dig a bit deeper into using forecasting
I like events that allow people to get to grips with particular techniques in a thorough way. At ISF, Rajesh Selukar, Principal Research Statistician Developer here at SAS, will be running a half-day practitioner workshop on Scenario Analysis and Stability Monitoring of Sequential Data. Attendees will be able to see how to perform tasks such as what-if analysis of future scenarios, and monitoring an ongoing observation process for structural breaks. The workshop will also use several simple but concrete examples to show people how these techniques work in practice.
5. A practitioner session on the practical use of forecasting for organizations
This year, we are running two practitioner sessions at ISF. The first is about the key challenges and considerations around forecasting. We’ll be talking about explainability, scalability, and composite AI, and how to approach all of those in practice. Jessica Curtis and Sofie Michiels will be talking about forecast explainability, with insights from a particular implementation. We’ll also discuss forecasting at scale in the cloud, and Jay Laramore will be looking at forecasting and optimization using composite AI. Those should be really useful talks, and hopefully we’ll see many people there that want to learn more about how to apply those concepts in their industries.
6. A second practitioner session on real-life applications of advanced forecasting techniques
The second practitioner session gives attendees a chance to hear about real-life applications of advanced forecasting techniques. It always seems to me that it’s much easier to understand how you might use a technique or technology when you hear about how others have used it. Jennifer Whaley will be talking about trends in energy forecasting. Chip Wells will be talking about how to develop and refine custom forecasting models, and finally, Ari Zitin will be showcasing building combined forecasts with machine learning. Again, it promises to be a fascinating session, and I expect to learn quite a lot.
And here is a picture of us from last year's ISF in Oxford. We can't wait for this year's event!
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