Foresight and Strategy 2018

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Past copies of Foresight and Strategy (formerly eSAMI) our monthly e-newsletter, are available. For other years go to Foresight and Strategy

January 2018

With the New Year, we have taken the opportunity to start a detailed review of how we reach out to our clients and colleagues. In the near future, you'll start to see changes to our website, but most immediately, you'll have noticed that "eSAMI" has become "Foresight and Strategy". At a time when every email is competing for your attention, we want to make sure we stand out - and giving our newsletter a new, clear name is part of that process. We'd like your views too - what should we be doing better? How should we best present ourselves? Do let us know at

Helping people understand what the future may bring is increasingly important when the future has never seemed so uncertain or confusing. Every time one goes on Twitter, hears the news or catches a newspaper, the world seems ever stranger and more unpredictable. 2018 shows no signs of slowing down: technological and biotech advances compete for mental space with politics, social change and conflict. Near term events have long term implications, and 2018 promises to have more than its fair share. We will be working, thinking about and discussing what matters, as always - in the UK, inevitably that means Brexit; in Europe, the pace of social change as the liberal order of the EU's founders continues to be challenged by a resurgent populism; as China outpaces an apparently rudderless United States, and as events across the globe threaten peace and security for some, or all, of us.

But it is not just politics, the changes which will cause material differences to life in the medium and long term continue - the fourth industrial revolution is picking up speed, technology both enables and restricts freedom and opportunities, and medical as well as biotechnological innovation moves out of clinical trials and into the real world. We will be there, gathering in all of this, and helping our clients understand it, and what it means for them, now and into the future.

This year will be no easier than last - and its implications as long running. We look forward to being alongside you as it develops.

We’re often asked if there is any evidence that “this futures stuff” actually works. We’ve put several case studies of successful projects on our website, but now at last independent research has quantified the value of “future preparedness”. In a robust 7-year longitudinal study, Professor Rohrbeck showed that the right Strategic Foresight practices boost profitability by 33% and market capitalization growth by 200%.

After the ESPAS conference in Brussels last month, Gill Ringland joined our friends at the School of International Futures for a discussion in the issues facing futurists and how to embed foresight within organisations. The photo below shows some of the things identified.

Details of the SOIF Webinars are coming up soon - if you aren't already signed up to the SOIF newsletter, you can do it here .


We are again running our two-day Futures Thinking workshop, in central London on the 5th and 6th of March. This practical "hands-on" course is designed to give participants a good understanding of a range of futures techniques and includes exercises to gain confidence in using them. There are plenty of opportunities to discuss case studies and for participants to share their experience. Topics covered include: • Horizon Scanning • Drivers of change • Scenario Planning • Policy assessment Contact for more information and to register.

Futures Issues

The Economist pointed out some interesting demographic changes we can expect to see in 2018 - France and Finland will join the list of countries with a shrinking workforce, while China continues to see the biggest decline in its working age population.

The wonderfully named Magic Leap announced the forthcoming launch of its Mixed Reality goggles. As well as six cameras to track the wearer’s environment real-time, the goggles have four microphones to sense the sound around a user. Applications can be built on dedicated portal from “early” 2018.

The US Food and Drug Administration just approved the first gene therapy for an inherited disease, a hereditary form of blindness. It’s just a one-time injection into the retina, but could cost as much as $1 million if it’s anything like previous treatments.

A Japanese company is rolling out a “ digital pill ” which reminds patients to take their medication. The digital pill dissolves in the patient’s stomach activating a sensor to send a signal to a patch reader attached to the patient's waist and on to the system's app on the patient's smartphone via Bluetooth. It’s particularly aimed at schizophrenia patients, as many as 40% of whom stop taking their medication within 6 months.

Uber is reducing the costs of ambulance services in the US. A before and after study showed rates of ambulance usage drop by around 7% after Uber or similar ride sharing apps launch in an area. Some doctors are concerned however that calling an Uber rather than dialling 911 may mean that patients do not get the best treatment.

Although Bitcoin itself is having a rocky ride, new applications for Block chain keep emerging: wealth management, ethical business practices, tackling electoral fraud. Could it be used to halt “fake news”? It’s also suggested that Blockchain could help developing countries cut regulation costs and spur greater access to the world economy.

A recent study showed that algorithms designed to detect lymph node metastases in patients with breast cancer could out-perform a panel of pathologists.

Alder Hey hospital is using an AR app to make children feel more relaxed in hospital. A virtual guide can show them round the hospital – what is like to have an X-ray - answering questions about the medical procedures.

Meanwhile the ECB is trialling the use of VR headsets to improve batsmen’s reaction times, against specific bowlers rather than generic ones. Shame it was too late for this Ashes series.

Global spending on the Internet of Things is expected to reach $772.5 billion next year, up 14.6 percent from the $674 billion seen for 2017, according to the latest study from IDC. The key applications will be fleet and asset management, smart utility grids, smart cities, and home automation and security.

Intriguing effect of greater use of renewables in Germany – negative energy prices . Improvements in battery technology, and “smart home” systems should be able to better balance supply and demand.

Our Blogs

Our recent blogs have covered quite different subjects; firstly we shared some thoughts following the sad news of the death of Watts Wacker , including a project he had been involved with at ICL in the 1990s. We then reviewed our time at the DMDU workshop in Oxford last November where we heard great perspectives on the ‘real world’ from speakers such as Claire Craig, giving insights into how the foresight – or DMDU – community can provide inputs to policy makers. The full programme is available here . Following our Christmas break we began the New Year with a look at the technology trends for 2018 .

A collection of our 2017 blogs will be shortly be available in pdf format on our website.

SAMI Consulting - The home of scenario planning

Foresight and Strategy
Foresight and Strategy is a monthly email round-up of issues we think might interest strategists and futurists.

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site last updated
17 January 2018

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