Strategic Foresight Customers
The food industry, the entertainment, and the oil and gas industry are among the practitioners of strategic foresight. Good examples of companies in the forefront of the practice include the Royal Dutch Shell and Tyson Foods. Other industries keying into future studies include the entertainment industry, automobile industry and the digital industry.
The Entertainment Industry
- The pandemic created a severe setback in the entertainment sector.
- Even giants like Disney declare that the pandemic has shown how drastic uncertainties can make it hard to engage in Future Studies. Nonetheless, companies still leverage the tool within their human capacity.
- Experts stated that there was a remarkable increase in the application of strategic foresight during the COVID situation as people saw an opportunity to build a better future.
- It is believed that the industry would have been better positioned to survive the pandemic if it was equipped with better ways to embrace uncertainty.
- Some say that the foresight tools faulted were "overly reliant on historical data" and were "outdated tools which have worked fine in the past in a simpler world".
- Although Disney suffered immensely from the pandemic, with the help of its direct-to-consumer streaming business started due to strategic foresight, the company had “something to turn to”.
The Food Industry
- In the food industry, there have been several investments in Future Studies. Concerned parties have launched extensive research on discovering; therefore, preparing for future risks, opportunities, and different scenarios in the complex and uncertain future of food systems.
- Due to the fast-changing nature of the food industry, several such studies have been conducted even when seemingly counterintuitive.
- These studies do not predict the future, but exhaustively document data to get a better grasp of current events, future consequences, and possible alternative pathways with "more desirable outcomes".
- Tyson Foods, one of the world's leading meat producers, started actively searching beyond the insights gotten from consumer trends reports. The brand has engaged foresight researchers such as Idea Couture in this process.
- Monitoring its consumers and future scenarios, Tyson has made many leaps since 2016, repositioning it from being a world leader in meat products to protein products.
- According to Justin Whitmore, the company's executive vice-president of alternative proteins, "As people increasingly start to look at the nutritional panels across many upstart alternative protein brands and realize that many options may not be as good for them as they initially thought, our products will stand out...".
- The recent pronounced shift in consumer eating patterns due to the pandemic has “upended the marketplace.”
- Tyson consumer insight experts say that many of the current changes are due to consumers having a new routine. Stay-at-home orders are changing where and what people eat. More people have shifted to making food from scratch and reusing leftovers.
- For these and several other reasons, researchers are monitoring consumer events and developing scenarios to understand uncertainties such as the possibility of forced shifts from trusted brands due to shortages of stock.
- Other leaders in the vertical including PepsiCo, Campbell Soup Company, and Constellation Brands are also collaborating with key foresight researchers such as Future Food Studio, the National Science Foundation, and New Harvest.
- Other industries keying into future studies include the entertainment industry, automobile industry and the digital industry. Walt Disney, Volkswagen, and Google are among the practitioners.
The Oil and Gas Industry
- One significant concern for the oil and gas industry is to arrive at "a low-carbon, high-energy future".
- Being one of the largest companies in the oil and gas industry, the strategic foresight investment of Royal Dutch Shell is quite significant.
- Shell, a pioneer in strategic foresight work, continues developing scenarios in which several of its "key assumptions or uncertainties are becoming reality".
- One popular application of strategic foresight by the company was the Year 2000 Project. The Year 2000 Project, developed in 1967, was created to examine possible outcomes of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
- Shell started tracking happenings in the primary oil-producing countries and establishing refineries to produce lighter fuels.
- During the Arab oil embargo, while the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) struggled with the oil supply shortages and escalating prices, Shell was well pulled through and effortlessly rose from seventh to third as a global oil company with the help of its strategic foresight project.
- Till today, the company continues to invest in strategic foresight especially in the area of building solutions for "a low-carbon, high-energy future".
- Other major oil and gas companies (such as Siemens) are also keying into strategic foresight.
Strategic foresight is defined as "a discipline organizations use to gather and process information about their future operating environment." It is also called Future Studies. The research team meticulously examined academic journals and databases (such as Research Gate and Science Direct) for publications that addressed the topic. Top strategic foresight platforms including the European Foresight Platform and the Global Strategic Foresight Community were also carefully inspected for information on their members and practitioners. Alternatively, the team also analyzed reputable strategic foresight companies and consultancy agencies such as Strategic Foresight Investments LLC (StratFI) and RAND Corporation. Having identified the relevant industries, further background checks were done to draw more insights and examples. The team organized case studies of companies in each industry to provide details on how the industries are investing in strategic foresight.