• Yet another data-point on the spread of the cloud metaphor. "Cloud computing are services, storage and data all based in companies’ servers external to your computer’s hard drive. You are already so active in the Cloud, you don’t think twice about it: facebook, gmail, google apps, flickr, online banking, shopping….the list goes on. All the information we exchange that is stored outside our computer is “in the cloud.”"
  • Horizon scanning is the practice of monitoring the business environment, and tracking the changes in the environment that could have an impact on individual businesses. Understanding change in the business environment is a key element to understanding and managing business risk.
  • Strategy formulation is strictly intertwined with the analysis of the likely evolution of the business environment, in order to detect promptly the opportunities and the threats brought about by emerging trends and to deal with them properly (strategic foresight). Today many companies put much effort into strategic foresight, and also in the literature on strategy there is a growing attention to strategic foresight. However, it still seems there is a lack of a general framework of analysis that clearly defines how all the foresight activities should be carried out in a firm and should be integrated in an organic way, in order to support strategic decision makers at corporate, business and functional levels. This is the main issue we have taken into account through the study of some relevant European and US firms that have established foresight units, in order to deliver support for long term strategy formulation.
  • Environmental scanning is the acquisition and use of information about events, trends, and relationships in an organization's external environment, the knowledge of which would assist management in planning the organization's future course of action. Depending on the organization's beliefs about environmental analyzability and the extent that it intrudes into the environment to understand it, four modes of scanning may be differentiated: undirected viewing, conditioned viewing, enacting, and searching. We analyze each mode of scanning by examining its characteristic information needs, information seeking, and information use behaviours. In addition, we analyze organizational learning processes by considering the sense making, knowledge creating and decision making processes at work in each mode.
  • This paper suggests that environmental scanning (ES) has been restricted to parts of the external world and has largely overlooked the inner one. In fact the inner/outer distinction has itself been lost sight of within Futures Studies (FS), as in many other fields of enquiry and action. The result is that much well-intentioned and otherwise disciplined work takes place in a cramped empiricist frame that has, for good reason, been dubbed ‘flatland’. For ES to more adequately comprehend a richer and more complex reality, a broader scanning frame is needed. This paper provides a model for working toward that goal.
  • How can we look for the unexpected? The answer, unsurprisingly, is that we cannot. We can only hope to be looking in the right direction when the unexpected rears its head, and to be capable of seeing it for what it is. The goal of environmental scanning, a research method used in planning for the future, is to increase the likelihood of both.
    (tags: scanning)
  • Penny is an enterprise social computing consultant at Headshift, where she leads the user analysis, engagement, adoption and community building elements of projects with legal and professional services firms.
    (tags: scanning)
  • Forward scanning involves looking at the surrounding world for drivers of change in the future. The Forward Scanning group has extensive skills in scanning, scenario development, foresight processes, qualitative and quantitative research methods, as well as, hands-on experience in developing and deploying innovative technological tools that best support the research objectives (i.e., Web 2.0).

    The PRI will engage in ongoing scanning to assist in the identification of emerging issues that have the potential to shape the policy agenda over the medium to longer term.

  • Ever since the field emerged in the 1950s and 1960s, futurists have been acutely aware of the special challenge this implies, including two most obvious consequences. First, even the most serious work is vulnerable to potentially devastating criticism. This has triggered an on-going effort of theoretical justification that has accompanied the development of the Futures field. Second, in relation to this, sound methodology is crucially important to provide support when exploring such insecure ground as professional and academic speculation on possible futures. It is not surprising that methodology has constantly been one – and often the – central concern of the field, sometimes to a point of excess.

  • "A paradox of the futures field is that futurists strive to know what cannot be known, ie they make assertions, however tentative and contingent, about the future. They understand, of course, that the future has not yet materialized in the present and that, thus, nothing has happened that can be known. In attempting to deal with this paradox, futurists have offered conflicting views on the role of prediction in futures research, some denying that prediction has any role whatsoever. This article claims that prediction is a legitimate purpose of the futures field and proposes four solutions to the paradox."