Skip to content
Featured image: How AI Is Enhancing Environmental Scanning
Environmental Scanning | AI-Driven Innovation

How AI Is Enhancing Environmental Scanning

Artificial Intelligence is altering the world as we know it, and many applications of the technology have already changed industries.

Consider how retail, marketing, advertising, and customer service have provided more targeted solutions due to AI and how this will increasingly contribute to other areas, including logistics, healthcare, security, and agriculture technology (Agtech).  C-Suite executives realize the future impact of AI, but it can be a daunting task deciding where and how to implement AI. 

Currently, AI is mainly used to contribute to three main areas: automating organizational processes, improving efficiency and quality of insights through data analysis, and engaging with customers and employees. Deploying AI will most likely be a phased transformation for most organizations, and a pragmatic strategy is to first consider where and how AI could be deployed to alleviate any bottlenecks that slow down processes. 

One such common area of congestion is analyzing large amounts of data and deriving useful insights to identify areas for innovation. Executives are often able to describe prominent themes that indicate consumer and operational shifts relating to their organization; however, few can easily identify sub-themes, key developments, emerging technologies relating to themes, and subtle shifts in consumer preferences and behaviors. In addition, coordinating stakeholder and employee involvement around these insights can also become gridlocked, inefficient, and uninspiring.

4 Opportunities AI Presents to Improve Environmental Scanning

  • Employing AI to bolster data analysis processes can decrease time spent, increase creativity and empower decision-making.
  • Organizations can capitalize on signals from environmental scanning processes by augmenting the process. Incorporating AI technology may yield several benefits across organizational structures.
  • The processes of sensing, interpreting, and acting on environmental scanning cues can be hindered by confusion due to the amount of data and can lead to uncoordinated decision-making. Suitable AI applications can resolve issues around sensing, interpreting, and acting.
  • Adopting AI tools needs to amplify business capabilities and be considered a continuous capability-building addition supporting data collection, visualization, and engagement of key groups across the organization.

To leverage environmental scanning as part of organizations' foresight and strategy efforts, the tools used must improve the flow of information and tap into the knowledge and expertise of stakeholders and employees across the organization. Several organizations battle to scale solutions that will enhance foresight and strategy without losing time and quality efficiencies. AI employed to improve foresight and strategy efforts must support scaling across organizations to continuously collect data, and deliver strategic insight.

New call-to-action

How Lear Innovation Ventures Is Leveraging AI to Improve Environmental Scanning

Competitive advantage requires identifying opportunities from environmental scanning analysis, precisely what global automotive technology leader Lear Innovation Ventures did by employing AI-powered trend and technology management.

list_check scale environmental scanning capabilities
list_check sift through complex data and focus on data-driven decision making
list_check harness collaborative efforts and formalize their innovation processes


As an industry leader in Seating and E-Systems, Lear Innovation Ventures required a multi-faceted solution supporting their commitment to innovation, operational excellence, and sustainability. As an organization dedicated to delivering innovative and supreme quality solutions to end-users, they also aim to advance the automotive industry, specifically around autonomous, connected, electrified, and shared mobility. 

To achieve this, Lear Innovation Ventures has built robust eco-systems that allow for collaboration across 165,000 employees located in 39 countries, as well as partnerships with startups, accelerators, incubators, and design and venture communities. To this end, they needed an AI-driven solution that enabled more efficient environmental scanning that could be integrated with already existing organizational systems. They required this integrated system to reinforce their unique approach to scanning and monitoring the environment for emerging trends and technologies. 

Another objective that needed to be met with their digital platforms, was that it had to support the collaboration they have come to rely on and connect business units in a pragmatic and user-friendly manner. These digital connections have to assist the foresight and strategy efforts by engaging the right people through the platform and accelerate decision-making. Their solution also needed to foster continuous innovation mindsets by allowing signal scanning and evaluation and processing.


To achieve tangible business impact and enhance robust decision making through streamlining an AI-powered early warning system to scout and monitor emerging trends, technologies, startups, and blind spots.


Lear Innovation Ventures Process

AI cannot replicate human analyst environmental scanning processes; however, AI significantly reduces time spent and increases data analysis outputs. For Lear Innovation Ventures, the AI needed to be contextualized through their unique scouting, evaluating, and processing approaches.

The ITONICS AI-enabled solution utilized insights modules and radar views to increase scouting capacity for Lear Innovation Ventures. AI-powered algorithms allow monitoring high volume time-sensitive input such as news reports, academic research, and patents, enabling global engineering experts and innovation managers to identify gaps and blind spots for innovation.  

The Lear Innovation Ventures' strategy analysts can collaboratively interpret and evaluate the AI-assisted signals to identify relevant trends and technologies through a rating and review process enabled by the ITONICS platform. The rating process uses collective organizational intelligence, synthesized through the ITONICS digital platform, to indicate a more profound assessment and relevance score for each emerging trend and technology.

Once the collaboration and evaluation processes are completed for specific emerging trends and technologies, portfolios are created on the platform that drives action. Lear Innovation Ventures uses data-informed insights to create bi-annual reports that communicate and encourage commitment to innovation initiatives. 

Leveraging the ITONICS platform, at Lear Innovation Ventures, we managed to build a systematic approach to anticipate upcoming disruptions and actively seek for trends, emerging technologies or startups, weak signals and blind spots.

Regional Innovation Manager, Lear Corporation

The power of visualizations

Data visualization arranges data in a manner that is easy to digest. Being able to organize data in visual contexts, will help grasp the significance and potential opportunity spaces for innovation.

Timeline visualizations: Assist you in understanding whether a topic is on the rise or decline. It answers the questions: If you invested in the technology / tried to satisfy this market trend, would you be one of the first-movers or a laggard?

Worldmap visualizations: Assist you in easily viewing where the topic is being talked about. It answers the questions: Where are the most promising and most saturated or resistant markets for a specific innovation?

Cluster visualizations: Assist you in understanding which areas are particularly important within a theme or trend. It answers the questions: Which industry, discussion point or policies have strong ties to this theme or trend? 


Lear Innovation Ventures were able to scale their environmental scanning capabilities, and through using AI-based signal detection, the organization could sift through complex data and focus on data-driven decision-making. Supported by AI-powered algorithms, a high input volume could be garnered through their three-tiered environmental scanning approach. 

Standardizing their environmental scanning workflow meant that they could harness collaborative efforts and formalize their innovation processes. Key trends and technologies could be identified that assisted the organization in taking the necessary steps to prepare capacity for the future. They can identify opportunities and gaps within the organization and catalyze innovation that increases opportunity spaces and diminishes gaps. 

AI will continue to improve foresight and strategy processes; however, AI alone will not facilitate significant long-term innovation. Platforms that stimulate collaboration and create innovation roadmaps take organizations' innovation efforts further and ensure continuous innovation and organization-wide commitment and support.

ITONICS has supported a multitude of global organizations through AI-driven innovations. At ITONICS we rely on a combination of AI-enabled and human-empowered intelligence to meet the increasingly demanding nature of the times we live in.