2013 and beyond – two academic frameworks for seeing what’s next in Digital Marketing

As we bid farewell to 2012 and all the amazing things that happened, we also welcome in a new year and wonder what it will hold.

“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in”
– Napoleon Bonaparte

Whilst reading and gathering articles, tweets and posts from thought leaders may appear like a worthwhile activity, I’ve become cynical about the value it really provide. Not all advice will be applicable to your unique personal or business situation, some of it may be valuable. In fact a large portion may be downright dangerous to your success.

“The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself”
– Oscar Wilde

Consider this a teach a man to fish post summarising two academic articles on foresight (i.e. the precognition of future trends and events). Rather than telling you what I think is going to occur with marketing and technology in 2013, let me share some academic articles on how to visualise what will happen next.

“May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, The foresight to know where you are going, And the insight to know when you have gone too far”

Pocket Primer of Comparative and Combined Foresight Methods

Science and technology foresight baker’s dozen: a pocket primer of comparative and combined foresight methods by Jack Smith and Ozcan Saritas was written to provide a set of foresight methods that can be used in practice. Smith and Saritas also provide guidance on how to choose the right tool for certain situations. The framework of methods is as follows:

foresight-model

The five stage process takes the consultant/user from the point of having lots of information through to prioritisation and action. There are some key points to consider:

  1. Good foresight requires a wide range of perspectives. Therefore consider what sources you get insight from; ask what the cleaner thinks of your business, read something random (like this), bring in one of your customers (especially if they’re unhappy)
  2. “Good foresight is fundamentally collaborative”. Smith and Saritas champion the use of the Delphi method for prioritisation allowing your group of stakeholders to determine what to deal with first.
  3. “Foresight is more about conversations and rich stories about varied dimensions of life experience than just analytics or data – after all there is no real data on the future, just projections, assumptions and implications from present data”

Due to copyright I can’t share the PDF of the article here but it’s well worth the price if you plan of using it: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1917014&show=abstract

You can read more about this (for free) or Ozcan Saritas’ website at http://www.systemicforesight.com/sfm.htm

Entrepreneurial Foresight

The second paper is The art of entrepreneurial foresight by Emilio Fontela, Joaquín Guzmán, Marybel Pérez, and Francisco Javier Santos.

If you’ve ever said “I wish I’d thought of that” then this provides an insight on the “boosters” that entrepreneurs possess and links them with the creative processes required to have anticipate what will be next.

An entrepreneur is made up of three spheres; the managerial, the financial and then the important “booster”. The identified “boosters” that are necessary to facilitate entrepreneurial drive are:

  • Motivation;
  • Ambition;
  • Innovation;
  • Cooperation; and
  • Proactiveness.

Creative, insight and forecasting endeavours sit hand-in-hand with the spheres as a major factor of entrepreneurial success. Importantly the authors note that whilst these attributes may appear unobtainable (“I cannot draw therefore I am not creative”), they can be achieved:

“We tend to regard creativity as something brought about by chance, or as the by-product of an ego-seeking temperament, or as a mysterious magic gift which some people have and others do not. Creativity is all these things, but only because we have made no attempt to introduce discontinuity into our thinking in any other way.”

This is an important element to add to Smith and Saritas work and a reminder that those who can see the future have a foot in the arts (think Leonardo DaVinvi, Arthur C Clarke or Steve Jobs).

Once again I can’t share the PDF of the article but it can be obtained from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1579321&show=abstract

Conclusion

Foresight is a function of Creativity and Process. Too creative and you design something that nobody needs or wants. This is the realm of wacky professors and failed – yet hilarious – Dragons Den pitches.

Too much process and you’re a Microsoft or General Motors; unable to innovate and disrupt.

The skill is in the blending of the disciplines, not in mastering either one.

process-and-creativity

“Innovation is not the product of logical thought, although the result is tied to logical structure.”
– Albert Einstein

Further reading:

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers
59 Seconds: Think a little, change a lot
Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers
The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators

David Sealey is a trusted adviser to senior executives on getting the most from their investment in digital and data. David created Storm81 as a place to share his passion for business, digital technologies, multichannel marketing and everything else around these topics.

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