Thursday, November 3, 2011

WebFOCUS Predictive Analytics with no Add-Ons

The underlying WebFOCUS language has a built-in statistical function that can perform some basic predictive analytics. If you only need basic data forecasting, there may be no need to purchase a third-party statistical product. 

Out of the box, WebFOCUS supports the following forecasting functions:

  • Linear Regressions
  • Simple Moving Averages
  • Exponential Moving Averages (single, double, and triple)



Using linear regression, a WebFOCUS application can calculate a straight line that best fits a time-series of actual data points. The predictions are then future points along this straight line past the available actual data values.

A moving average is commonly used with a series of data spread over a time period to identify long-term trends or to smooth out short-term fluctuations. You might also know this as a rolling average, rolling mean, or running average. The WebFOCUS application tells the forecasting function how many data values to use when calculating the averages.

A simple moving average calculates averages using the actual data values. For an exponential moving average, the function calculates a weighted moving average using an actual data value and its previously calculated average. The weighting factors decrease exponentially over time, never reaching zero. 

In a single exponential moving average (also known as smoothing), the WebFOCUS application applies multipliers (weights) to the newer and older values. However, this technique may not accurately identify real trends in the data series.  To better handle true data trending, the WebFOCUS function provides for both double and triple exponential moving averages.

In a double exponential moving average, weighting accounts for the tendency of data to either increase or decrease over time without repeating. In a triple exponential moving average, weighting accounts for repeated seasonal fluctuations in the data in addition to the trend.

You can read more about this on Information Builders' documentation site.  

It your BI application needs only the basic forecasting methods using linear regression, simple moving averages, or exponential moving averages, WebFOCUS may already have the features you need. If however you need more robust analytics, then implementing industry-strength statistical products such as the open source R language, IBM's SPSS, SAS, or KXEN may be more appropriate than using the standard WebFOCUS forecasting function. 

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About Me

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I am a project-based software consultant, specializing in automating transitions from legacy reporting applications into modern BI/Analytics to leverage Social, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, Visualizations, and Predictive Analytics using Information Builders' WebFOCUS. Based on scores of successful engagements, I have assembled proven Best Practice methodologies, software tools, and templates.

I have been blessed to work with innovators from firms such as: Ford, FedEx, Procter & Gamble, Nationwide, The Wendy's Company, The Kroger Co., JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Siemens, American Express, and others.

I was educated at Valparaiso University and the University of Cincinnati, where I graduated summa cum laude. In 1990, I joined Information Builders and for over a dozen years served in regional pre- and post-sales technical leadership roles. Also, for several years I led the US technical services teams within Cincom Systems' ERP software product group and the Midwest custom software services arm of Xerox.

Since 2007, I have provided enterprise BI services such as: strategic advice; architecture, design, and software application development of intelligence systems (interactive dashboards and mobile); data warehousing; and automated modernization of legacy reporting. My experience with BI products include WebFOCUS (vendor certified expert), R, SAP Business Objects (WebI, Crystal Reports), Tableau, and others.