Running an 80 person scouting network to spot relevant trends

Vitesco Technologies, a leading international supplier of advanced powertrain technologies and electrification solutions, has a long tradition of trend scouting and horizon scanning. The company has a global network of trend scouts, whose main job is to provide decision-makers and innovators in the organization with a comprehensive view of market and technology trends.

A few years ago, the technology scouting team was looking for a solution that would support the collection of signals and identification of trends in their domain even more efficiently. The team began using FIBRES for that purpose, as well as to build a trend radar of emerging technologies.

Edgar Talke, who leads the corporate trend and technology scouting team at Vitesco Technologies, shares how they’ve organized to spot relevant trends, and what role FIBRES has in their foresight process.

Signals are collected independently, and trends confirmed in collaboration

The three domains that matter most to Vitesco Technologies are market, legislation, and technology. These domains are divided further into approximately 20 subfields, each of which has a key user in FIBRES.


Image caption: An example of Vitesco's trend radar which has been split into three sectors for technology trends, market trends, and legislation trends.  This image has been recreated with Vitesco's permission but is not Vitesco's real trend radar.

Vitesco Technologies' foresight process is a mix of independent signal sourcing, and collaborative analysis, and decision-making.  Data sourcing is mostly done asynchronously. An agreement upon new trends takes place monthly in a key user meeting, in which two to three key users present their findings in defined subfields for discussion in the team.

If everyone agrees that a new trend has been spotted, then that trend is added to the radar. As a result, the trend scouts always have an up-to-date trend radar summarizing the most important developments in market, technology, and legislation, which is shared with the whole organization.

According to Edgar, this approach has brought more transparency into Vitesco Technologies' foresight work. With the new trend radar, management and important stakeholders can easily see what information new trends are based upon, and trust that they reflect a shared understanding.

Vitesco Technologies values internally curated insights over external trend reports

Many companies choose to buy insights, like trend data, from the outside. Vitesco Technologies has chosen a slightly different path – their most important source for futures intelligence is their own people.

According to Edgar, inputs from employees result in more reliable and valuable insights. In Vitesco Technologies' foresight process, all trends are vetted by their people.



Image caption: An example of a trend on Vitesco's trend radar. This image has been created with Vitesco's permission but is not Vitesco's real trend.

Today, there are approximately 80 people adding inputs into FIBRES. Most of these people are regular employees in different functions, who are interested in keeping tabs on the future, whether that's from the point of view of e.g. product development, customer service, or sales.

The trend scouts see their role as being like "spiders in the nets". Their responsibility is to collect all this data and consolidate it into meaningful insights. Facilitating the process has become easier with a dedicated foresight tool, as it's easy for users to add inputs themselves.

As an added benefit, employees at Vitesco Technologies feel like their observations matter. As a global corporation, the distance between a subject-matter expert in, for example, China, and management in Germany is long. With a global foresight process and tools to support it, this distance has practically disappeared.

There's an enormous amount of valuable information in our company globally. A lot of our people are taking the time to see what is happening in the world. From a trend scout’s perspective, the challenge is getting to all these thoughts and observations. With the right tools, it's easier to involve our employees and get good inputs for our foresight work.

edgar-talkeEdgar Talke
Technology scout at Vitesco Technologies

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Milla Lappalainen is head of marketing at FIBRES. She's excited to learn foresight best practices from the top organizations in the world already running their own foresight workflows and to share those learnings with others.

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