Web searches as a leading indicator

by Bill26. September 2011 19:47

The dream of business forecasting would be to find a single easily accessible indicator that would predict your company’s future business demand with perfect accuracy. In the last few years we’ve been able to get more prospect behavior data than ever. Examples include whether email campaigns were actually opened and patterns of customer behavior on websites. These are certainly great leading indicators of potential customer interest in products or services.

But what if we could get these same indicators of customer interest without the effort and expense of promotional campaigns? A recent article explained how using Google Correlate helped an auto manufacturer create a forecast that was 18% more accurate. This toolset allows anyone to analyze the correlation between web searches for particular words or phrases and their business performance. This in turn can be used as an input to a more accurate fitted model for forecasting.

Our best demand forecasting models include broad indicators like Google Correlate as well as more geographically specific indicators. This combined with sophisticated statistical models of historical performance to capture trends and seasonality let us get closer and closer to the dream of business forecasting.


Leading indicators of business performance

by Bill23. September 2011 18:37

The Economist magazine recently published a fun article about reader suggested ideas for new leading indicators of the state of the economy. Their readers suggested ideas ranging from the use of veterinary services—which fall in a down economy--to the sales of stress related healthcare products such as antacids—which rise.

At Perkins, we encourage our clients to think about leading indicators that are more directly related to their business. Traditionally, most organizations have looked at their sales pipeline as their key leading indicator, but our clients have found that thinking outside the box leads them to valuable insights at different time horizons. We’ve helped them look at demographic change data by Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), local weather forecasts and building permit counts--all useful leading indicators at relatively short time horizons.

Another example might be to use easily accessible public data to track specific financial indicators for a basket of public stocks representing your customers. Seeing their inventories go down while their sales go up might be a valid leading indicator that they will need to place additional orders. As always, the best way to build demand models is by doing low-cost testing. At Perkins we are always testing for better leading indicators of unconstrained demand for our clients products and services.


Pausing a process using PsSuspend from Sysinternals

by Rick Glos7. September 2011 18:32

We just received new laptops at work and now we need to migrate our files from one machine to another.  I have a few rather large virtual PC disks that I needed to transfer.  I was using robocopy to transfer the files from one laptop to the other over my home network and noticed some severe latency on my source laptop.  I was trying to do productive work on the source laptop and every mouse click or keystroke seemed to lag one or two seconds making it too painful.

I had already spawned the robocopy process though and it was 20% through moving multiple files and I didn’t want to stop it and restart it.  So, “how do you pause a running process”? A google search landed me on a page that talked about PsSuspend and using it to pause a running process.

I used Process Explorer, another favorite from sysinternals, to identify the process id of the running application to suspend.

9-6-2011 11-05-56 AM

Then using the pssuspend tool I was able to pause the copy so I could work.

9-6-2011 11-24-31 AM

I then later in the day restarted the process.

9-6-2011 12-56-08 PM

You could see in the properties of process in process explorer when the copying started up again that it was copying the file at 2.0 MB per second.

9-6-2011 12-56-23 PM

This could come in handy for all kinds of processes to pause and then restart.

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