Foresight-Driven Innovation at the intersection of Content and Health
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Foresight-Driven Innovation is about exploring and understanding the future to steer the exploration and exploitation phases of innovation. Foresight addresses the (fuzzy) front end of innovation, i.e. it focusses on opportunity detection instead of problem-solution-market fit. It aims at identifying a time or a set of circumstances that might enable future product or service opportunities, a challenge that needs to be translated into more concrete solutions.
Digitalization, for example, is still massively changing many industries and its potential is far from being fully understood. In media, the way content is used and consumed is still undergoing a massive transition with unknown results and effects on market participants. Similarly, digitalization creates enormous possibilities within the health sector. However, it also creates new possibilities at the intersection of both fields, e.g. through robot assistants such as SARA that goes far beyond mere medical support and includes content transfer to the elderly and people in need, or gamified therapeutics as Sidekick that aims at individualized treatments to induce behavioral change. In both cases, an opportunity has been identified based on existing needs – health assistance in times of increasingly high workload of care professionals and the possibility to increase health through behavioral change – and was combined with new possibilities provided by new technology and scientific insights.
However, most common methods from the innovation spectrum range from exploring a problem space, to finding possible solutions for the problem(s), before iterating the best solution to fit the market, finding the best business model, and preparing to scale. Many innovation methodologies and techniques can add great value in understanding concrete problems, finding solutions and iterating to a perfect market-fit in the present. But what if you’re looking for a new field to explore, a field and opportunity of the future?
Foresight-driven innovation helps identify opportunity spaces of the future. It can thus set the stage for practices such as Design Thinking or other solution-oriented innovation methods that can be applied subsequently.
At that, foresight will not give you the opportunity of the future. Rather, it lets you open up an Opportunity Space, a field that is not as broad as for example the future of learning but also not quite a specific problem, a pain or gain that can directly be addressed with a solution. Foresight’s methods and tools such as Horizon Scanning, Opportunity Radars, Scenario-based Decision-Making, Future Experience Groups and Future Fitness Tests can extend the common innovation toolkit at the front end, in fields that are characterized by high uncertainty.
How exactly does foresight contribute to new business development?
The range of foresight methods enable us to detect opportunity spaces by understanding and exploring the possibilities through modeling complex systems, revealing unexpected shifts, overlaps and possible opportunities, and eventually focusing on the most promising ones.
The first steps are usually driven by trends, technological or societal change, environmental, legal or political uncertainty, own observations, and sometimes simply expectations or anxiety of what’s to come. Through scenarios, for example, we can model possible and plausible future states – scenarios give us for example the Futures Cone (see figure below and J. Voros’ explanations here). Through the long-term perspective in scenarios we can systematically identify the problem areas of the future. We can address questions like: where will future problems lie, what common denominators do fields like content and health have? What are likely future opportunities? How does that fit existing market participants?
These first steps support us in understanding the impact of change, not only in general, but also in the context of an industry or single organization.
However, truly value-creating Foresight practices do not end here. If applied the right way, foresight supports us (companies) in becoming more concrete about the future by assessing opportunities and identifying the most promising ones – based on our assets, our capabilities, our network, ambitions and strategy. It helps in understanding, exploring and managing in uncertain environments. Read more about this here.
nextMedia Hamburg’s program Content Foresight Health will dive into two fast changing industries. By combining competences from both industries in a collaborative and participatory approach, the program is a very promising attempt at unveiling so far undetected potential and opportunities at the two fields’ intersection. At first sight, the connection might not be obvious, but once you start to think about it you quickly start to think about the way content will be transferred in the future, how this might expand the possible audience to people that could not be reached in the past, how it might enhance and better people’s life, how it might improve treatments through effective, technology-supported and/or gamified transfer of personalized treatment plans…
Once you start to think about it, possibilities appear to be vast. What is missing, then, is a way to explore and assess them systematically. And this is what Content Foresight will provide.