Amazon Forecast

Accurate time-series forecasting service, based on the same technology used at Amazon.com

No machine learning experience required

Amazon Forecast is a fully managed service that uses machine learning to deliver highly accurate forecasts.

Companies today use everything from simple spreadsheets to complex financial planning software to attempt to accurately forecast future business outcomes such as product demand, resource needs, or financial performance. These tools build forecasts by looking at a historical series of data, which is called time series data. For example, such tools may try to predict the future sales of a raincoat by looking only at its previous sales data with the underlying assumption that the future is determined by the past. This approach can struggle to produce accurate forecasts for large sets of data that have irregular trends. Also, it fails to easily combine data series that change over time (such as price, discounts, web traffic, and number of employees) with relevant independent variables like product features and store locations.

Based on the same technology used at Amazon.com, Amazon Forecast uses machine learning to combine time series data with additional variables to build forecasts. Amazon Forecast requires no machine learning experience to get started. You only need to provide historical data, plus any additional data that you believe may impact your forecasts. For example, the demand for a particular color of a shirt may change with the seasons and store location. This complex relationship is hard to determine on its own, but machine learning is ideally suited to recognize it. Once you provide your data, Amazon Forecast will automatically examine it, identify what is meaningful, and produce a forecasting model capable of making predictions that are up to 50% more accurate than looking at time series data alone.

Amazon Forecast is a fully managed service, so there are no servers to provision, and no machine learning models to build, train, or deploy. You pay only for what you use, and there are no minimum fees and no upfront commitments.

Benefits

50% more accurate forecasts with machine learning

Amazon Forecast provides forecasts that are up to 50% more accurate by using machine learning to automatically discover how time series data and other variables like product features and store locations affect each other. You are better able to understand how these complex relationships ultimately affect demand than what looking at time series data alone can deliver. The models that Amazon Forecast builds are unique to your data, which means the predictions are custom fit to your business. To ensure that your models continue to deliver accurate results over time, Amazon Forecast makes it easy to schedule your models to be updated as new data becomes available.

Reduce forecasting time from months to hours

With Amazon Forecast, you can achieve forecasting accuracy levels that used to take months of engineering in as little as a few hours. You can import time series data and associated data into Amazon Forecast from your Amazon S3 database. From there, Amazon Forecast automatically loads your data, inspects it, and identifies the key attributes needed for forecasting. Amazon Forecast then trains and optimizes your custom model, and hosts them in a highly available environment where it can be used to generate your business forecasts. By automatically handling the complex machine learning required to build, train, tune, and deploy a forecasting model, Amazon Forecast enables you to create accurate forecasts quickly.

Create virtually any time series forecast

Multiple types of time series forecasts are required to run your business, from cash flow to product demand to resource planning. Amazon Forecast allows you to build forecasts for virtually every industry and use case, including retail, logistics, finance, advertising performance, and many more. Using machine learning, Amazon Forecast can work with any historical time series data and use a large library of built-in algorithms to determine the best fit for your particular forecast type automatically.

Secure your business data and peace of mind

Every interaction you have with Amazon Forecast is protected by encryption. Any content processed by Amazon Forecast is encrypted with customer keys through Amazon Key Management Service, and encrypted at rest in the AWS Region where you are using the service. Administrators can also control access to Amazon Forecast through an AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) permissions policy – ensuring that sensitive information is kept secure and confidential.

How it works

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Use cases

Product Demand Planning

You can use Amazon Forecast to forecast the appropriate inventory levels for your various store locations. You provide Forecast information like historical sales, pricing, store promotions, store locations, and catalog data from your retail management systems in a CSV (comma-separated values) format into Amazon S3 storage. You can then combine that with associated data like website traffic logs, weather, and shipping schedules. Amazon Forecast will use that information to produce a model that can accurately forecast customer demand for products at the individual store level. Export your forecasts in batch in CSV format and import them back into your retail management systems so that you can determine how much inventory to purchase and allocate per store.


Financial planning

Accurate financial forecasting like sales revenue predictions is fundamental to every business’ success. Amazon Forecast can forecast key financial metrics such as revenue, expenses, and cash flow across multiple time periods and monetary units. You first upload your historical financial time series data to Amazon S3 storage and then import it to Amazon Forecast. After producing a model, Amazon Forecast will provide you with the expected accuracy of the forecast so that you can determine if more data is required before using the model in production. The service can also visualize forecasts with graphs in the Amazon Forecast Console to help you make informed decisions.


Resource planning

Planning for the right level of available resources, such as staffing levels, advertising inventory, and raw material for manufacturing is important to maximize revenue and control costs. For example, a broadcasting company may want to optimize ad inventory regionally. It can import historical viewership data across different program categories and geographic regions, content metadata, and regional demographics into Amazon Forecast. The service will learn from this data and provide accurate local forecasts. Given that entertainment programming changes frequently, scheduled retraining of the models will ensure that the models evolve with local preferences.

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“We have been using Amazon Forecast to predict demand for over 50,000 different products, using Amazon Forecast’s state-of-the-art deep learning algorithms that we can use right out of the box. Amazon Forecast takes care of all the heavy lifting of setting up pipelines, re-training schedules, and re-generating forecasts, so we can experiment with hundreds of models very easily.”

- Fernando Croceri, Head of Analytics at Mercado Libre 

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“Amazon Forecast has been applied to CJ Logistics’ parcel volume forecasting process to optimize the amount of human resources, transportation, and warehouse space we provision to meet demand. Amazon Forecast allows us to use sophisticated machine learning-based forecasting techniques without building our own system. Looking forward, we have a clear vision of increasing our operational efficiency by using Amazon Forecast.”

- YoungSoo Kim, Vice President of TES Strategy Unit, CJ Logistics

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