We have to remember that predictions are only as good as the data they are based upon. Also, the fact that most of the insights come from the same exact data but reach different conclusions, means that there are sometimes many different perspectives on how things can be interpreted. Kind of like predicting the weather, the forecast is good for that moment in time, but conditions (and data) change continuously, so does the accuracy of the predictions. If someone could develop an algorithm to continuously monitor all of the data sources and changes on a continual basis, than they may have a fairly accurate method of predicting the future course of events?
So predictions from pundits are fascinating, random and non-linear - and like most other noise, only harmful when allowed to pass unfiltered into an underdamped system. Engineers are perhaps naturally well-damped; just watch for the "Err..." pause you get whenever an engineer answers a question.
I am not certain about which pundits are being discussed. The predictions that always amaze me are those relating to some product or process that predict the market expanding to some huge volume in the next few years. Often this claim is made relating to something that may be a "neat gimmick" but unless somebody arrives with a totally unforeseen application there is no reasonable way the market could be even ten percent of what is predicted.
My guess is that it goes a lot like henkmol suggests, that it is a CEO creating, or attempting to create, a "buzz" that they have "something new and wonderful", in order to drive up stock prices and assure a large quarterly bonus. The thing that bothers me is that if an engineer can spot this, why can't a board of directors spot it? IS it possible that many such boards are either inattentive or incompetent, or perhaps just lazy? Or do they have the attitude of "It's not MY money"?
Lets not listen to the self-appointed prof pundits. They broadcast, they do not run dialogues. How about listening carefully to blog reactions that reflect from bottom up? There is lots of skills expressed in individual reactions, that are not payed to draw attention or to expand the company they work for. Genuine opinions are to be expressed. When it comes to bookstores I like this example. Like other businesses, they erode indeed... like what the Lonely Planet travel guides say: good places go bad and bad places go bankrupt, you need bottom up info to revise the guide you sell. The first you see in the bookstore example is that the span of material is leveling out. They just sell the most popular least critical mass stuff after a while. Like a supermarket. If the persons running the store however know all about books not in their assortment now they there is a difference. If they actively communicate with customers they have due to the service they provide (namely helping the customer to choose in the overwhelming variety) a well deserved place in the economic food chain. This is also important for many other businesses - it is not the product quality, price and availability, but the explanation to and the knowledge of what is not immediately provided by the offered products. This is done by humans, person to person, that is what I believe makes the difference.
One of the reasons that pundits are used is to provide "deniability" if and when things go horribly wrong.
If things go right the CEO is a genius.
If things go wrong the market analysts are the idiots and the CEO can say: "We listened to the best available advice and on that basis entered/left the market, merged/sold/acquired etc."
In other words: "I ain't resigning because i paid Gartquest, Dataply and OutStat loads a money so I had clearly done due diligence and couldn't expected to see that my company plan was poor."
If all the market experts and prognosticators were in-house the CEO would have to take greater responsibility for the poor data, poor plan and poor company outcome. Somehow if they are out-of-house the CEO can try and duck that responsibility -- at least for a while.
But not everybody is an expert and it's definitely not in layman's scope to make reasonably accurate forecasts. So we rely on experts to give us an indication and that's what Bill is lamenting about. These so called experts have such wide ranging views that you can find one expert for whatever view you want. They certainly need to be more honest and qualify their statements without giving blanket assertions.
I am afraid that I have to resort to a couple of cliche's.
"Those that can (do), do. Those that cannot (do), complain". Those with nothing else to do, prognosticate and pontificate on the probable outcomes.
My favorite marketing saying is that a "forecast is only as good as the information available in the hour it was made....and you have to remember it is ONLY a forecast, not fact!"
Like anything else, if you find a winner in the commentator, forecaster, and critic "jobs", maybe you can make some decisions based on the info. But, being human, and not in control of all other humans, these people can and will be very often wrong.
Don't outsource your own thinking and analysis.
Thanks for your comments. We all feel your pain. But we cannot put everyone in the same basket just because a few have got it wrong. There are some so called “experts” that are seeking national attention to increase their contract pay. On the other hand, there are those “experts” that are true “professionals” that are not interested in the pay, but are interested in ensuring that they provide the correct information to the public. I do read these different articles and listen to what they have to say, just to write my comments to like them know that they need to keep their real day job. Because they are wrong, wrong, wrong.