WHAT IF? Advanced forecasting with TM1 & SPSS


Two of the most powerful words in the English language that confirm uncertainty and open the opportunity for understanding. In the world of business, how an organisation addresses these two simple words can determine those that succeed and those that struggle to compete.

WHAT IF you had an intimate understanding of the performance of your organisation?

WHAT IF you could evaluate the impact of your decisions on business outcomes?

The ability to understand the conditions in which you are operating and evaluate the impact of your decisions can give the competitive edge needed to survive in today’s markets. Whether you are a retailer competing for market share, a government department providing much needed services to the community, a utility dealing with volatile resources, or a financial institution balancing profit with customer satisfaction.

In its simplest form, what-if analysis can be conducted using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with embedded rules and calculations, allowing you to adjust key factors and see how they impact the final outcome. Unfortunately, this approach is difficult to manage and secure, and is constrained to a single desktop. This minimises the ability for a team of experts, managers or executives to collaborate and provide input to the scenario analysis, resulting in spreadsheets being manually edited and emailed around teams. For these reasons, my customers often refer to it as “Excel Hell”.

Using IBM Business Analytics, we can balance the ease of use in Microsoft Excel, with the Enterprise-readiness of the Cognos TM1 platform, delivering what-if analysis at the speed of thought. What this means to your business, is people across teams can collaborate on key factors that drive performance, and evaluate a range of business scenarios. Contributions are collected from team members and summarised at the corporate level – providing insight into performance throughout all levels of the organisation. A range of scenarios can be defined and evaluated until the decision makers are happy with the expected outcomes and can execute the best course of action.

WHAT IF you knew what was likely to happen minutes, hours, days, weeks, months from now? Would this change your decision?

Most organisations plan and evaluate forecasts based on historical performance and gut feel. A more powerful approach is to incorporate knowledge about what is likely to happen in the future, based on the hidden trends and patterns in the historical data that isn’t necessarily obvious to the human eye. This “prediction” can become the baseline for the plan, with opportunity for decision makers to make adjustments and evaluate various scenarios based on both known- and previously unknown- relationships.

The integrated nature of the IBM Business Analytics portfolio makes this process simple – bringing together Cognos TM1 and SPSS predictive analytics to deliver advanced modelling and scenario analysis via a single, easy-to-use modelling worksheet for business users.

Customers around the world are getting smarter about how they evaluate their business scenarios. At the recent Business Analytics Forum, a much loved and widely respected Aussie brand, Australia Post, talked about this very topic – how they use IBM Business Analytics to predict cash flow over a period, then adjust and evaluate scenarios to maximise the use of available resources, delivering significant benefit to the business.

WHAT IF you were the first in your market to leverage the power of TM1 & SPSS for advanced forecasting and gained the competitive edge?