CIO Gift Idea: Forecasting Software
By Laura Rich

(Business 2.0) – As more execs understand that good projections boost bottom lines, a new crop of forecasting software from the likes of Manugistics, SAS, and Steelwedge is gaining popularity. According to Scott Langdoc, an analyst at AMR Research, retailers alone will spend nearly $400 million worldwide this year on forecasting applications.

While old-style forecasting software simply analyzed sales history to find trends, new programs also guide the human process of creating a forecast. Massachusetts-based Enterasys Networks, a supplier of computer networking equipment, uses Steelwedge's Enterprise Demand Management platform to run monthly meetings at which heads of sales, product management, and finance collaborate on projections. "Nailing fourth-quarter forecasts is critical with high-tech gear because you can't dump inventory at an ultradiscount reseller," says Seema Phull, Enterasys's director of process and technology.

Still, Glen Margolis, co-founder of Steelwedge (which has raised $12.2 million in venture funding since 2000), says there are a lot of companies that have yet to adopt a rigorous approach to forecasting. "After Christmas," he predicts, "many companies will still be saying, 'We didn't know. We guessed.'" — L.R.