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Forecast analysts and demand planners are the well-rounded growth drivers of supply chain-focused companies. A unique role blending analytics and leadership skills, the forecast analyst uses historical models and predictive analytics to anticipate and shape demand, organize the firm’s resources to meet demand with supply, and streamline inventory. Graduates with a strong analytical mindset and communication skills are rewarded with generous salaries and the opportunity for career progression to executive level.
As companies leverage Big Data and enter the world of predictive analytics, forecast analysts and demand planners are in especially high demand. The discipline is both growing and evolving; the advent of machine learning and predictive analytics, combined with increasingly volatile market conditions, requires companies to invest heavily in forecasting functions. Forecasters and demand planners have the opportunity to enjoy a well-remunerated career at Fortune 500 companies, and be at the forefront of the practical application of cutting-edge technology.
A positive, can-do attitude is required to communicate insight gleaned from forecasts, as is a problem-solving approach that looks to turn insight into practical solutions. Being comfortable with presenting findings to senior management is important. A collaborative approach is also required to deal with different functions across the business and reach consensus for forecast figures.
The goal is to create a forecast based on relevant market information that allows a company to accurately gauge demand for its products, and effectively organize resources to meet this demand. The desired outcome of an accurate forecast is improved inventory, satisfied customers and the ability for Sales and Marketing to shape demand.
A strong analytical and quantitative mindset is required to handle and interpret large amounts of data. Experience with databases and statistics is a basic requirement, although the academic background of many successful analysts is broad, including the arts.
To Make yourself attractive to employers, demonstrate an understanding of statistical modelling and predictive analytics, and understand how they relate to supply chain and wider business goals. Keep up to date with developments in the field, and take advantage of free courses and webinars. It is important to understand Big Data and predictive analytics, and how these relate to the forecasting role.