Protecting one's business against future threats is difficult because no one knows exactly what will happen, or when it will happen. But with the help of the interdisciplinary field of foresight, it is easier to both look ahead in time, and to determine the decisions that need to be made in order for that future to be as favourable as possible.
Man has always wanted to be able to look into the future, but crystal balls have never been very reliable. In recent decades, on the other hand, an interdisciplinary research field called foresight has yielded very good results.
“Foresight is a discipline that is systematic, that is based on the active participation of several different stakeholders and that is future- and policy-oriented,” says Daniel Bengtsson, futurist and senior project manager at RISE.
“The future is not predetermined, but it can take very many different forms. The purpose of foresight is ultimately to be able to identify different types of futures, such as technological, social and economic, and to be able to make recommendations based on these insights.”
Finding out where the future is headed
These recommendations can, for example, be about how one’s own organization can contribute to achieving a certain desirable future, for example, municipalities can use it to conduct urban planning that is more robust and can withstand future climate threats such as flooding.
“But it can also deal with understanding which way the future is heading. For example, a while ago we did a foresight project with the Swedish Transport Administration to understand what all the individual disturbances that occur within a transport system can lead to in regard to development. When there is an understanding, it is easier to determine the decisions that need to be made, and the decisions, on the contrary, that can quickly become outdated.”
Foresight creates the ability to be more proactive
Foresight in security
But foresight can also be advantageously applied in organizations' work with security.
“Foresight creates the ability to be more proactive. You are more prepared for different events and scenarios, and this means that you can make better, more long-term decisions, but also that you can make them faster.”
According to Daniel Bengtsson, it is possible to apply foresight not only to IT security but to everything from terrorism to environmental disasters.
“What they have in common is that if you have used foresight to analyse different risks, you have a better picture of what can happen and can take appropriate actions if they occur.”
But as with all security work, working with foresight is more of an ongoing process than something you do once and then are finished.
“This often entails doing studies in a longer term, perhaps every three years, but also conducting dedicated, continuous monitoring of what is going on in the outside world.”
RISE has the expertise
Because this work often requires expertise that does not exist in individual organizations, many turn to RISE for help.
“We can serve as advisors in how to work with foresight and assist in leading individual projects in this field. I would recommend contacting someone who works with foresight and have a discussion about how your organization can benefit from it.”