What is a Signal?

Signals are indicators of potential future change. They represent the first signs of discontinuity, often with unclear origin and meaning.

🎓 Signals in Environmental Scanning

While a single Signal might be hard to interpret, a collection of Signals that point to the same phenomenon, and its development over time, can indicate an emerging trend.

In environmental scanning, the term Weak Signal is often used for very early indicators. And it is imperative to identify Signals early on for competitive advantage, and subsequently monitor them on a continuous basis. While it is highly uncertain if and exactly how they will impact the future of a topic, industry or technology, their impact can be substantial, even disruptive. Merely reacting, when their impact is already unfolding, can often be too late.


In the ITONICS Software, we use news, patents and scientific publications as Signals of change. Scientific advancements are very early indicators of the possibilities surrounding a particular technological advancement, patents point to relevance of a topic from the business side, and news are valuable to identify market and customer trends.

Our Signals are sourced from thousands of online news sites, hand-picked RSS feeds, the US-American and European patent offices and from open-access scientific publications. News from RSS feeds and new sites, as well as scientific papers are added at least once a day, while patents are updated weekly.

The ITONICS Insights module allows you to search through our database of Signals, save search fields for areas of interest, and leverage our visualizations to get an overview of the Signals surrounding a topic. Use it to scout for Signals about yet unknown topics. The Signals Feed of the Explorer module enables you to monitor content that you have already created, so you can keep on top of recent developments.