This post is aimed at anyone who is interested in how to scan the horizon for weak signals and emerging trends and make sense of them assisted by a web app (a tool) designed for that.
You might already have a foresight process and targets for future trends related work; updating company strategy or hosting a session for discussing relevant trends affecting your business. Maybe you have a team that collects observations and signals of change, and people who analyze and make sense of them. (If not, and wondering why you should work on future related information? See Five Uses of Market Foresight and Four Ground Rules of Foresight Work.)
For academic assurance that building the foresight capabilities and future preparedness does pay off in the long run, we warmly recommend looking into the research published by Aarhus BSS, School of Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University.
Once you have established the need and perhaps a hypothesis that you build insight for (even if it is just to pilot the work), the next natural step could be how to support it with tools. Tools, apps or software are there to support, but it is people who do the assumptions and decision-making in the end.
A few examples where a tool could boost the foresight work
1. People around are collecting interesting topics that relate to future of our business, but the material is shared with colleagues via emails, via other communication channels (e.g. Slack, Whatsapp and alike) or via social platforms (e.g. Pinterest). The discussion is not really facilitated nor follow up yet.
- First, get management behind this. Then establish a simple process and create a focus for the work (a theme, strategic target, a hypothesis about how the business could evolve during upcoming years). Start with a little pilot project connected to the annual strategic planning process.
- Agree who is involved (who collects signals, who facilitates the discussion and collaboration during sense-making, and who uses the information for decision making). Start with small, and then widen the number of people involved. Communicate!
- Start collecting signals, ideas and trend data into a single place, where each article can be an individual signal with discussion related to it and everyone in the organization can see it. Instead of breaking the discussion into different channels, convert it to one place where you can also show your strategic targets in the background if needed.
- Remember to add the loop back to people who participate in the process. It is important so to show that the work that’s been done, actually is playing a factor in the organizations future plans. Again communicate.
In this example, tools like FIBRES can support the work by offering that single place for collecting signals, even integrated with external sources (and internal). Work with all the content by inviting people to the platform as you go. Use workspace-like areas for more private discussions, if you would wish to discuss a certain trend before going “live” with the insight. Commenting on topics is easy, every content has its own discussion area, and FIBRES can be used with different devices, online – anywhere where you have a net connection. Use the platform also to loop the discussion back, ask for feedback, share the content and use the Roadmap to depict how the built insight is connected to your strategy.
2. As part of the annual strategy process or business development process, a yearly trend report is usually either purchased as a report or someone from outside sources. After that, the key points are picked by a BI team and the results are shared with tools like PowerPoint. This material is usually never really used again. Presentations are still a great way of presenting the findings, but they are not very interactive. What happens to that information after presentations? Most of the times they are not really looked back again, and in many cases, it’s not updated, it stays rather static and finally is forgotten. What if you would l like to add a new angle to the trend or discuss it further? What if you could have these findings written down in a dedicated place, get constant updates and suggestions related to them?
With a tool like FIBRES you can gather all the information into a single place, have trend descriptions alwasy ready for an easy update and also offer a location where to add new insight with a few clicks. From there the updated or revised content is continously available to support strategic discussion. In fact, each strategic step or target has the direct link to those trends and implications that affect your business. This way there is always a loop back to the drivers and when each strategic step is discussed, it is natural also to update the insights too. Some trends grow stronger, others may fade away with not much of an impact on organization’s strategy.
Beauty in this is that you can share this information with everyone in the organization if needed, or just use the visualisations to show which are the trends that drive the change in the business environment.
3. A continuous use of trend data sources but the content is downloaded from there and then manually updated elsewhere. Have you considered on having all that information directly on your “desktop” without too much extra manual work?
With FIBRES, get the trend research material directly to your own platform in a continuous mode, ready to be worked with. Then analyse and elaborate the material needed, add new ones, remove the ones are not relevant, and so forth. This can support your ways of spotting new emerging phenomena and opportunities.
Whatever way you decide to work on potential futures, building insight that really matters to you comes best into fruition when it’s connected directly to your strategy execution. Connect the trends that impact your strategy, directly to your own targets. Foresight work is always something that never should stay static for too long, remember to update and figure out new ways to do that work too!
Would you like to try FIBRES?
You can get your single-user version for free and try it out with your team for 30 days.
Or want to hear more about FIBRES?
Contact us and let’s talk. We also have a number of partners that can help you with the process itself or with the content that enables finding the new opportunities and supports strategic decisions making.