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Foresight | Customers & Community | Innovation OS

The 3 Biggest Challenges in Foresight (and How to Solve Them)

If you are searching for ways to optimize your foresight activities, we got you covered! We will discuss the three biggest pain points in conducting foresight activities successfully and efficiently: information overload, information silos, and the decision dilemma. Each of these challenges speaks to the complexity of moving from data to decisions—with speed and confidence.

When many teams think of foresight, they think of the activities and tasks to be done: signals scanning, trend, technology, and startup scouting, monitoring competitors, and imagining future scenarios. These are the “what”—the building blocks of an effective foresight program.

But equally essential in foresight (and in all innovation management endeavors) is the “how”—representing the mortar required to stabilize and structure everything into something truly valuable. It is also the “how” that differs the most across organizations and often represents the biggest pain points cited by foresight teams in 2023.

To help you overcome obstacles you might have or prevent them altogether, in this article we provide solutions and best practice examples for achieving your foresight goals. Read on to find out how different industry leaders are overcoming the most common foresight challenges using ITONICS’ foresight tools and techniques.

1. Information overload

Today’s businesses are constantly bombarded with vast and increasing amounts of information from various sources. While this information can provide valuable insights into the market, customers, and competitors, it can also be overwhelming and lead to information overload. Cutting through the noise to avoid missing important signals emerging on the periphery or horizon of your business environment is a major challenge for foresight teams.

The ability to identify and attribute meaning to signals, homing in on what is relevant and potentially valuable, is crucial for strategic decision-making. Doing so fast, continuously, and systematically is the key to staying ahead of the competition and driving growth.

Best practice example for managing information overload: Intelligent scanning

The rise of e-commerce has revolutionized the consumer goods landscape. Yet the need for digitalized operations extends well beyond consumer touchpoints. Driven by the need to shorten time to market, streamline workflows, and improve efficiency, leaders in food & drink, retail, and other fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) are looking to establish end-to-end digitalization across their value chains.

To build its digital infrastructure, a global FMCG brand is engaging in environmental scanning. It aims to derive insights to inform its digital strategy going forward. A primary challenge is the broadness of the scope, which extends across the full value chain—from concept to manufacturing to consumer engagement. Within this scope, the company has identified a bottleneck in its ability to sort through and make sense of the vast number of signals coming from news, publications, and patent databases.

The company seeks to develop a continuous scanning, scouting, and monitoring process using ITONICS Insights and a dedicated team of scouts. Insights is an intelligent scanning tool that sorts through millions of data points from verified sources. It uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology to classify and tag signals automatically. The scouts can then easily filter signals across various properties—like country, company, industry, or technology—and use Insights’ World Map and Topic Cluster visualizations to see which topics are growing and where.

Also see: Monitoring Technologies & Trends: How to Accelerate Weak Signal Detection

ITONICS Insights Signals Feed for intelligent scanning of the business environment

To further tailor this experience in Insights, a set of custom search presets was created to align with this initiative’s scope and goals. These presets make it possible for different stakeholders to view, share, and revisit a saved search field, visualizing its development across defined timelines and updating its parameters as needed. Relevant signals within these search fields are pinned, making them visible to all users. This encourages discussion on the weight and impact of a given signal or collection of signals, providing valuable insights on emerging technologies, startups, and competitor activities.

With ITONICS, this FMCG brand is scaling its environmental scanning, reducing the complexity of moving from data to insights, and accelerating its digital transformation.

Download our free guide on how to use ITONICS Insights for environmental scanning.

2. Information silos

Information silos occur when data and knowledge become compartmentalized and isolated within specific teams or divisions. And a silo mentality is more common than organizations realize; it can be difficult to recognize and even more difficult to overcome. The reason for this is that information silos are not only the result of outdated, decentralized systems. Research finds they can also stem from a lack of collaborative culture and a common unifying purpose, vision, and strategy.

When information is locked away in silos, it becomes difficult for foresight teams to access a comprehensive and holistic view of the organization's internal and external environment. Silos hinder the ability to detect emerging trends, anticipate market shifts, and identify potential opportunities or threats. Without a complete understanding of the broader landscape, foresight activities become fragmented and limited in scope.

Best practice example for breaking down information silos: Collaborative technology management

Technology is advancing rapidly in the healthcare & pharmaceutical industry. Digital and on-demand health solutions are on the rise; treatments are becoming more targeted through data analytics and improved understanding of genomics; and the application of automation and robotics is set to revolutionize everything from drug discovery to diagnostics to delivery.

Amidst this rapid pace of technological change and rising competition, a multinational healthcare company is monitoring and evaluating emerging technologies that could impact its business in the future. However, without a formal process in place, its initial efforts failed to deliver the intended results. The company’s biggest pain points have been a lack of structure and transparency, resulting in different technology experts and teams working in separation—risking duplication, information gaps, and knowledge loss.

To address these pain points, the company turned to ITONICS to help establish a formal process for technology management. The company has created a central point for technology intelligence across teams and functions by mapping relevant technologies to innovation initiatives. Different stakeholders can now easily evaluate and prioritize technologies to explore, visualize dependencies, and identify opportunities for collaboration using ITONICS Radar, Matrix, and Network Graph.

ITONICS Matrix for collaborative technology managementMoreover, the company uses the insights derived through this continuous and collaborative technology management process to validate decision-making for its strategic portfolio management. This is possible thanks to ITONICS’ end-to-end innovation ecosystem that links foresight activities to strategic goals and initiatives.

ITONICS is providing this healthcare leader with the foresight tools and techniques to ensure standardization, consistency, and transparency throughout its technology management process and, ultimately, steer its strategy to execution.

3. The decision dilemma

If your foresight team has successfully overcome the challenges of information overload and silos, the next step is deriving actionable insights to inform decision-making. However, this can be one of the most difficult steps to put into practice. With so many signals, drivers, and variables to consider, teams can struggle to agree on a shared narrative of the future and identify the most promising opportunities for growth. Rather than boosting your confidence in decision-making, the wealth of available information instead creates decision paralysis—hence the decision dilemma.

Foresight teams often encounter the paradox of choice. They must grapple with a multitude of possibilities and options, making it challenging to determine the most appropriate course of action. The fear of making the wrong decision or missing out on significant opportunities can further exacerbate the decision dilemma.

Best practice example for overcoming the decision dilemma: End-to-end foresight framework

Where and how people invest is changing. And as the banking & finance industry adopts smarter algorithmic-driven technology, a broader range of alternative assets, decentralized finance (DeFi), and emphasis on ESG investing are emerging. The result is a new cohort of tech-savvy and sustainably-minded investors seeking financial management advice.

To better anticipate the evolving needs of its customers, a global investment management firm is building an end-to-end foresight framework. The framework encompasses several layers of information, including strategic themes, signals, trends, technologies, and companies. Amidst all of this information, the foresight team aims to identify opportunities and report its findings to the company’s leadership, ultimately informing its future strategy.

With ITONICS, the company can connect the various layers of information in a central location. Its scouts quickly detect and integrate signals, linking them to known trends or technologies or indicating new, emerging drivers of change. Companies and startups are also explored for their feasibility as FinTech partners. Then, subject matter experts are invited to evaluate trends and technologies based on business relevance, impact, and potential applications in dedicated and regular rating workshops.

The foresight team uses the ITONICS Radar with its collaborative ratings to perform trend and technology analysis. The ability to contextualize and relate drivers of change across its business environment improves the robustness and accuracy of projections that point to promising opportunities. These evidence-backed opportunities are also rated, this time by the company’s executive committee, and plotted on the ITONICS Matrix to highlight strategic focus areas and inform decision-making.

ITONICS Ratings for improved decision-making in foresightITONICS foresight tools and techniques are helping this investment management firm unify its end-to-end foresight process and assimilate various stakeholders’ input on key topics, so it may more decisively plan and prepare for the future.

Solving foresight challenges with ITONICS

ITONICS offers a comprehensive solution that empowers your foresight teams to overcome the challenges of information overload, silos, and decision paralysis. With one platform, you can scale environmental scanning, boost transparency and collaboration, and foster a future-focused organizational culture. The ITONICS Innovation OS helps you establish a systematic process for conducting continuous foresight to empower your decision-making and build the foundations of your innovation strategy.

Want to solve the biggest challenges facing your foresight team and free yourself to focus on what truly matters? Get a free demo of ITONICS to find out how easy it can be!



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