A review of the SIBB e.V. Forum on Digital Transformation: Corporate Foresight
Technologies are developing rapidly. Customer needs are changing. The future is rewritten every day. Companies have to constantly rethink and adapt their strategies — or be left behind in the process.
While classic futurology takes a comprehensive look at society, “corporate foresight” methods offer concrete tools to implement for the development of a sustainable corporate strategy.
At this month’s SIBB e.V. event on June 11, our founder Maren Lesche lead an interesting panel of key players in this field – those who have had success in implementing key corporate foresight strategies within their business, and also advise other companies on how they do the same within their business.
The term “corporate foresight” raises many questions for companies attempting to “play catch-up” in this space, however our focus was namely on:
- Why is it important to be prepared for the future? What are the strategic innovation management tools and methods of futurology that companies should be focused on.
- How does a company deal with the constant external change?
- Which trend is the most important one? Thinking here both locally and globally.
- How can companies develop a strategy to strengthen their position for the future?
“The “move fast and break things” era is over – the public will favor businesses that address economic, social, and environmental problems in addition to disruption.” ~ Harvard Business Review, Jan 2019
Our panel presented concrete foresight measures, as well as case studies from everyday corporate life of Berlin companies, and discussed trends that are currently influencing international markets. The speakers included:
- Tobias Heger, managing director of the citizens of Berlin Foresight consultation Rohrbeck Heger, focusing on “Corporate Foresight 101: Strategic classification, methods, conversion in the enterprise”.
- Volker Schmidt, CTO of Berliner Glas KGaA, discussing “From the everyday life of the company: Insights into the development strategy of Berliner Glas”.
- Dr. Manfred Paeschke, Chief Visionary Officer at Bundesdruckerei GmbH, on “From everyday company life: Case study II”.
What is Corporate Foresight?
Our panel was in agreement here – it enables organizations to detect, understand, and take impactful action towards change on the direction your company is heading.
It’s not an optional approach anymore – it’s vital to survive with today’s ever-evolving technologies and ever-changing markets. In short: Corporate foresight allows your company to get ahead.
How can we take action?
Rohrbeck Heger’s Tobias Heger provided an insight into the key steps to take here:
- Perceiving – this is where you build lead time towards your competitors in detection of change
- Prospecting – this is where you create an insight advantage by understanding change and new opportunities
- Probing – And lastly, this is where you focus on renewing your competitive advantage through lean product development and fast iterations.
Corporate foresight is designed to discover opportunity spaces. This means it should come before any design thinking, lean startup and SCRUM, which are designed to address a problem-solution and a solution-market fit scenario. If you can change your perception here, then your company has a better chance of progress in corporate foresight.
“The environment is changing so quickly now, and constantly, that a new way with working with the future is required. So you need to be prepared for the future, understand what the dynamics are, to be able to react to what’s coming towards you.” ~ Tobias Heger
Which current trends are most important right now?
The trends that are most relevant to your company will always depend on your industry and your region.
In Germany and globally
Tobias Heger stated that “changes in mobility that includes the convergence of different industries” are huge right now, followed by “digitalization, an area where German companies are really behind on and really need to get going here”.
Thinking more globally, climate change is another area that all companies need to consider as part of their corporate foresight.
In your industry
Volker Schmidt provided a clear example of focusing in on your industry. Being in the medical industry, he stated that they were focused on both the market and also changing technologies. Very important for them is the “trends in the semi-conductor market”, as well as medical business-related changes, such as digital measurements on patients and robotic surgery:
“In the technologies we’re using, of course everything is becoming more automated, more digital, but one very new trend is the use of artificial intelligence for image analyzing and production. It’s very important that we stay across these changes.”
How can companies be prepared for the future?
Ask yourself and assess within your company – are you building shared views of the future, views that are also driving your innovation efforts?
“I would recommend to reserve a certain amount of income for long-term research, this is vital, often very easily forgotten when it’s then too late. Doesn’t need to be much, 2-5% is already helping a lot.” ~ Volker Schmidt
Corporate foresight should become a part of your company’s routine — fully integrated into planning and decision-making. Tobias Heger highlighted five (5) key takeaways from his presentation:
- Analyze deeper than your competitor – in your field and industry
- Build shared future outlooks – using scenarios and radars
- Train key people on systems thinking and trend audits
- Create budgets for probing into new markets
- Integrate corporate foresight into all decision-making routines.
“My recommendation is not to be afraid. It can sound very complex, and there are many different aspects, but the best thing is to just get going, try out small projects and activities, and try to understand how it can work. Take a very lean way of getting started.” ~ Tobias Heger
This was a small taste of what was discussed, with many great questions raised by the attendees — conversations that continued on over pizza and a cool drink afterwards. We will continue to publish the learnings from future events on our website. Please feel free to join the conversation below or tweet us.
Feel free to reach out, comment, share thoughts on some of the statements, or just connect to exchange notes.