by Geovanny Romero
When companies work with resources allocated for evaluation and planning for the future, they are more likely to remain highly efficient and successful. Companies need to understand the future of their business environment in order to remain competitive and to ensure their sustainability.
Technology Foresight is a planning tool that allows building technology probabilities of occurrence and influence to achieve a desirable future and propose possible futures based on the feasibility technological. However, it considers that there are still a lot of problems with the application of foresight, since it lacks a solid methodological basis, a wide acceptance, continuity, has a low level of dissemination of results and poor integration of all activities.
The last year I presented TEFMIBO in Portland International Center for Management of Engineering and Technology – PICMET 2012. This research shows a methodology for technology foresight in order to achieve better implementation and to overcome its problems. With Technological Foresight Model for the Identification of Business Opportunities, I intend to provide a tool to support managers and entrepreneurs to improve the decision making process that address the future of their business.
TEFMIBO contains several technology planning tools linked in a systematic sequence that will facilitate the work of identifying business opportunities.
In the initial part of TEFMIBO I propose two studies:
1) trends analysis and 2) change drivers’ identification; these lets us know exactly what are the relevant trends in areas where we want to venture that may affect the business activities. All this information is put into a Delphi process with the help of experts in order to find the common denominator of where the future is going; afterwards, with this information we can build events and scenarios for the business opportunities. Then, a diagnostic of the study area, sector or organization through the dynamic diagnostic methods is performed. Once the opportunities have been identified, a strategic analysis that allows decision making to prioritize and define the activities or projects that may be achievable in the future is done, and the result of the process is a portfolio of in business opportunities projects fully defined and ready to be planned with a roadmap where the complete path is drawn.
Below, a general diagram of TEFMIBO:
The 8 steps of TEFMIBO are:
- Trends Analysis: A research activity that allows to know exactly what the trends are presented in the areas that want to develop or innovate.
- Change Drivers Identification: Research and analyze everything that is changing or is about to change. It allows knowing the factors that influence in the evolution of the activities of business development. They can be early warnings, emerging topics and break points.
- Delphi Method: It is a systematic process of expert surveys that seeks to highlight convergence of views and reduce the dispersion in the answers. It takes place in several rounds.
- Diagnostic of study area: The objective is to know the current status of the study area, company or business with the application of dynamic diagnostic methods: tree of skills, method of structural analysis (MICMAC) and the method of actors’ analysis (MACTOR).
- Scenarios generation: By determining single and combined probabilities of occurrence of interaction of a set of events or hypotheses, scenarios can be developed.
- Defining business opportunities portfolio: The objective is to formalize a list of projects of technology businesses, it is recommended by cross functional team or staff.
- Decision making: Is the prioritization of projects or opportunities that may be enforceable by organization, and allow launching a new product, service or improving a process, which constitute a new business opportunity by using ANP (Analytic Network Process).
- Technology Roadmap – TRM: Applied technology mapping (TRM – Technology Roadmap) to mark the way that allow to achieve the business opportunity more reliable and profitable and especially that allows to make an action plan.
For application of TEFMIBO is very important that the technology planner of organization has skills in innovation, creativity, and expertise in R&D and foresight. It is also necessary that the person using the model knows the company, its business environment and have skills that enable to work within a cross functional team. With TEFMIBO, a company can not only achieve a desirable future but to research and understand their future alternatives.
The model focuses on technology, S-curve analysis, innovation, products, customer needs, market, marketing and distribution of products, environmental regulations, economic and political , which are factors that help to analyze what is changing, thus strengthening and what may change. Identifying business opportunities is not an easy task as there will always be uncertainty about what will happen in the future. Using technology foresight allows companies to prepare and plan its desirable future, facilitates decision making among future alternatives with respect to businesses technology-based.
images credit: unido.org; 1.usa.gov/12HmiGc
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Geovanny Romero, is certified NPDP Plant Manager at Renovallanta-ContiLifeCycle, and Managing Director at NPD Strategy in Andean Region. A Member of PDMA International, his main interests are focused in Productivity, New Product Development and Lean In