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. 

No comments:

About Me

My photo

I am a project-based consultant, helping data-intensive firms use agile methods and automation tools to replace legacy reporting and bring in modern BI/Analytics to leverage Social, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, Visualizations, and Predictive Analytics. For several world-class vendors, I led services teams specializing in providing software implementation and custom application development. Based on scores of successful engagements, I have assembled proven methodologies and automated software tools.

During twenty years of technical consulting, I have been blessed to work with smart people from some of the world's most respected organizations, including: 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, graduating summa cum laude. In 1990, I joined Information Builders, the vendor of WebFOCUS BI and iWay enterprise integration products, and for over a dozen years served in branch leadership roles. For several years, I also led technical teams within Cincom Systems' ERP software product group and the 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.