September 29th, 2017
Informed discussions about possible futures makes an organization ready to deal with the rapidly changing world. In more than fifty organizations, people have looked into the future using the Futures Platform foresight tool. People involved have explored long term trends as well as discovered new drivers of change, they have debated and prioritized, and they have considered impacts of the key changes. As a result, they have achieved a valuable shared view of the road ahead, and they continue to update that view.
We have been delighted to see the
rapid adoption of Futures Platform in organizations of many kinds. Corporations are using it, e.g. in financial services, energy, telecoms, industrial manufacturing and trade, to name a few sectors, and so are public sector organizations, teams dealing with city planning or regional development strategies being some of the most active users. Our consulting partners are also a key user group, and very good at bringing out the maximum value of Futures Platform when helping organizations integrate future foresight into strategic planning, new business creation, customer experience development, R&D and other planning processes.
We have added to our web site some new interesting examples of how Futures Platform has been used. You can read about how a group of CEOs used Futures Platform together when they, representing member companies of The Association of Finnish Technical Traders, worked together with their industry association’s leadership to renew the association’s strategy. You can also read about how Futures Platform is being used as a tool in a regional development program in which the region’s companies are working together to create new business concepts for growth.
If you have not yet tried Futures Platform, you can check it out with the free trial
Over the summer, we are launching new elements in Futures Platform. The foresight radar view continues to be the core view into the future. Now, having created your radar view, you can work in additional ways with it and gain additional value of looking into the future (expand this article to read more..)
We have launched daily news updates. In the end of June, you can already find a continuously updated news feed as part of the phenomenon description in the 100 most viewed future phenomena (have a look for example in 3D Printing, Future Without Work, Blockchain Revolution… You will always find the Latest News section in the end of the phenomenon description). During the summer, Latest News will become available for all of the phenomena. It will now be easy for you to stay informed. And you can pick up interesting developments to discuss with your team.
We have built a new rating tool to enable advanced impact assessments and the new tool will be online very soon. The familiar voting tool remains in place, and you can, as always, prioritize the most important phenomena on your foresight radar in a simple way. What’s new is that you can (then) choose to do a more advanced evaluation of selected phenomena. You can use a two dimensional rating, in which each phenomenon is assessed on two scales (the x and y axis), which you can define yourself.
For example, you could name your X axis as “Impact on our organization” and your Y axis as “Our organizational readiness” and do a rating of various strengthening phenomena or wild cards such as “Circular Economy”, “Robot coworkers” , “Digital Crime” and others, to assess which ones are the ones with highest impact but perhaps needing more actions to prepare for.
As another example of using the tool, you could define your one rating dimension to be “Threat vs Opportunity” and the other dimension to be “Short Term vs Longer Term Impact” in order for your rating exercise results to display which are the best near term opportunities to seize while making sure you start to prepare for certain threats further in the future.
Futures Platform’s new advanced summary report will allow you to get all your user insights easily into a report format. As always, you and other users can add comments and points of view regarding any future phenomena on the radar. It is easy to get all the comments compiled into a report, which now, in its new format, allows you to choose whether you also want to include short summaries of each phenomena and in which sorting order you want the phenomena (with user comments) to be included in the report.
Sharing tools make it truly convenient to send a summary of future foresight to colleagues. The summary report described above can be easily shared as a PDF document with colleagues. Also, the matrix view from the advanced rating tool (described above) can be converted into a PDF file and shared to communicate your findings and conclusions regarding future trends and disruptive forces.
For creating a clear picture of what the future holds, Futures Platform is the tool. In case you are not a subscriber, you can check out the free trial at www.futuresplatform.com/product. Please feel free to get in touch with us any time and let us know what developments to Futures Platform would add additional value to your work.
We have just published an introductory video to Futures Platform.
Please take a look and tell us what you think.
We often hear from customers that getting a structured view of the future is difficult. And when not having a clear picture of the future, it’s difficult to effectively prepare for the changes ahead. Futures Platform has been praised for providing a truly helpful visual framework.
Futures Platform enables the mapping of future trends in the context of one’s own organization. It is also highly valued that the tool comes with a wealth of ready-to-use insights about future developments. They feed directly into strategy work or other planning processes. Increasingly, many of the trends that shape businesses today come from outside of one’s own industry domain. Structured insights, such as the trends database in Futures Platform help organizations spot trends that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Yet the old truth holds: Most of the insight that a company needs to succeed already exists in the organization. All organizations have their own observations on interesting future developments and potential disruptions. The key question is how to enrich the internal wisdom with the valuable external insights that are available.
Hence we have worked to develop Futures Platform into the direction of still better enabling the combination of internal insights with the external perspectives.
Publish your own trend observations onto your radar screen to assess with colleagues
It is now easy for users to add new trends onto their organizations’ own foresight radar view within Futures Platform. Users find that blending their own trend observations with the tool’s existing trend descriptions becomes a uniquely rich collection of foresight. Also, as another option, users can utilize the tool’s available trends information as raw material. It is possible to edit the existing material to include the user’s own points of view. This can make the trend descriptions even more relevant for their organization.
Futures Platform offers further value by providing the voting and discussion tools for team members to cast their votes on which developments are most important and also to add comments on what the developments really mean for their business. Team members can thus effectively work together on the platform to align views and formulate new insights and strategies.
Futures Platform enables new ways to invite colleagues to assess future opportunities and threats
Looking into the future and making sense of the opportunities and threats is typically team work. Hence we have developed Futures Platform into the direction of smooth collaboration. Features that we’ve been working on recently include include tools for team members to send messages to each other directly from Futures Platform. They will soon also be able to attach “snapshots” of selected trends they wish their colleagues to pay attention to. This is an easy way to kick start a discussion with colleagues about a critical new development on the horizon.
Foresight as a continuous activity
All our recent development work serves to help the users of Futures Platform make it a continuous activity to discover new opportunities and avoid potential threats together, working as a team with a shared view of the future. Get your free trial of Futures Platform here!
On November 10, Futures Platform organized a breakfast seminar in Helsinki that was highly successful on many fronts: Cases Martela and Kemppi were well received among the audience, the house was full of attendees, and the discussion was lively both during and after the event. Our sincerest thanks go to both the case presenters and to the audience that generated active dialogue in the event.
To start off, we heard the participants’ own experiences from the challenges that the future brings along. The topics that were raised covered a wide range: From the impact of digitalization on everyone’s business to understanding the complexity of modern networks, where the same players may be competitors on one front and partners on another. Startups were also mentioned in the context of them typically being indicators of a change coming; startups are the first ones to spot an unsatisfied market need.
Taking ownership of one’s future
Future foresight work as a discipline was also briefly discussed. The starting point here is ownership of the activity; While foresight work may be assisted by external consultants, every company needs to maintain the ownership of the actual work in-house to control its own destiny. Another key thing is continuity: Change is faster than ever and occasional one-off future studies hardly help the company to maintain an accurate and evolving picture of its future.
Cases Martela and Kemppi: Beyond product business with the help of future foresight
Panu Muhonen, Offering Director of the workplace furniture specialist Martela Oyj told the audience that the company actually no longer describes itself as a ”furniture manufacturer” but instead a partner for companies in developing better work environments. This is a direct result from looking systematically into the future, analyzing trends and drivers and making decisions on what business the company wants to be in in the future. The work hasn’t gone unnoticed: Muhonen mentioned that customers increasingly describe Martela as their partner for developing the entire working environment. And on the cooperation front they nowadays get contacted by parties that would never have approached a mere furniture manufacturer.
Teresa Kemppi-Vasama, Chairman of the Board of the pioneering company in welding Kemppi Oy, described one of the purposes of their future foresight work by saying that the leaders of their customer organizations are typically not overly interested in discussing – welding. Instead, they appreciate the welding vendor’s ability to discuss the future of materials, technologies, strategic things that matter to them. Without staying constantly on top of where the customer industries and technology trends are headed, it’s impossible to lead such discussion and form a strategic relationship with the customers. Naturally understanding the future trends is also important for Kemppi internally. How will for instance the development of 3D printing impact the need for welding?
How to make connections between trends?
Towards the end of the breakfast event, we saw a brief demo of the Futures Platform tool. A question was raised from the audience as to how to best ”connect the dots”, i.e. find relationships and perhaps causalities between different trends and phenomena. In Futures Platform, trends are contextual to begin with, in that each phenomenon belongs under a megatrend and potentially a trends group in between. This alone helps bring structure to the otherwise messy picture of the organization’s future. On top of this natural hierarchy in the tool, the users may consider forming clusters of interrelated phenomena and analyzing them together from the own business’ perspective. And of course since future is uncertain by definition, it makes sense to look for the forces that may have gone unnoticed previously: Do we spot something on the map that may impact our business but we just haven’t realized it yet?
Marianna Mäki-Teeri has been appointed Futures Analyst in the growing team of Futures Platform. She joins the futures foresight team lead by Tuomo Kuosa, and participates in the identification, selection and analysis of future change phenomena that are constantly updated in the Futures Platform tool.
Marianna holds a Master’s degree from the Turku School of Economics where she concentrated specifically on Futures Studies. The Master’s program in Future Studies produces foresight experts capable of helping organizations to harness future opportunities and avoid unnecessary risks. Professionals who have completed the foresight program are equipped with a versatile toolkit to implement foresight thinking in today’s organizations.
Futures Platform™ has completed a 550 thousand euro financing round that will help the company accelerate its product development and prepare for international growth. The financing round is a combination of loan and equity, and the group of investors consists of Takeoff Partners, Gorilla Ventures, and several angel investors. Futures Platform™ is a web-based tool that helps organizations build a holistic view of their own future in an engaging fashion.
”The traditional way of doing foresight work in companies tends to be very project-oriented”, says Juho Lipsanen, angel investor and advisor to Futures Platform™. “Companies may have assigned a trends analysis project to support their strategic planning round, yet once the plans are complete, the trends analysis stays on the shelf collecting dust. It’s just that the pace of change currently taking place anywhere one looks is so fast that organizations should have their future radar constantly on. Futures Platform™ is an inspiring tool for making strategic planning future-oriented, in a continuous fashion. It also saves time as the users will avoid starting from scratch each time there’s a need to assess future trends” Lipsanen continues.
”Futures Platform™ is a modern foresight tool developed by seasoned entrepreneurs (Global Intelligence Alliance, Alternative Futures), and it has already helped many organizations build their own, continuously updated view of the future opportunities and risks”, says Ville Vanhala, CEO and co-founder of Futures Platform™. ”That an organization has the future trends under radar naturally won’t guarantee success in itself, however a shared and up-to-date view of the future does help organizations make educated decisions and seize opportunities as frontrunners”, Vanhala says.
”From an investor’s point of view, the experienced team is what’s particularly interesting in this company”, says Leif Backman, Senior Partner at Takeoff Partners that took part in the financing round. ”These entrepreneurs have strong experience from not only strategic foresight work and the related tools, but also from successfully taking these type of services global.”
The group of angel investors participating in the financing round consists of Takeoff Partners, Gorilla Ventures, Juho Lipsanen, Matti Lapinleimu, Kalle Katevuo, Antti Kemppainen and Tapio Talvisalo. In addition, Tekes has granted the company a loan to further develop its innovative foresight tool.
A free trial of Futures Platform™ is available here.
Ville Vanhala, CEO
Tel. +358(0)40 764 8511
Saku Koskinen has been appointed Sales Director of Futures Platform. Saku has extensive experience from consultative sales and client engagement in an international context. Over the past 15 years he has on worked strategic topics with client organizations in the contexts of telecoms solutions, foresight services, as well as educational services, sales development and strategy consulting. At Futures Platform, Saku is responsible for interfacing with Futures Platform’s customers and will develop the sales and account management functions and broaden the client base for the Company.
”I am excited to have the opportunity to build up and lead the sales and customer functions for a newborn global company, and at the same time take part in creating an international success story. In this role I have the chance to fully utilize my sales management and leadership skills, as well as plan and build up efficient sales, customer and partner models for Futures Platform. It’s really inspiring to enable the strategic intelligence and insight work for any organization, public or private, in order for them to make the right choices for their future success”, Saku says.