How to best segment and split your foresight work

What is it? 

When it comes to foresight, it is clear that you cannot do it all at once. 1.145 trillion MB of data is produced every day. No machine, no human can perfectly analyze all this data constantly. That is why, you need to split your foresight activities and find a framework by which you can best organize your work and best represent the results to others.

In the following, you will learn

How does it work?

Building a hierarchy of foresight components 

When it comes to the first question, it is good to start with a quick exploration of how the scouting of environmental changes can be best organized. Not every content piece has the same impact and meaning. To master the waste amount of potential data and content, it is best to know where to spend more attention and where to spend less attention. 


  • Much attention: The easiest way to start your exploration is by defining dedicated themes of interest. Such themes help you to not get lost in the huge amount of available information.
    They provide orientation on what matters most. They also set the frame for any further exploration.

    It is thus recommended to define 5-8 themes of interest properly and assign dedicated theme owners who are responsible to collect the most relevant drivers and signals of change for the respective theme.

    Later, and while collecting the signals, new themes will emerge - more or less - automatically.

  • Most attention: As a theme is too generic and most signals are too specific for decision-making, you should pay the most attention to the drivers within a business environment. A driver already impacts or will impact your business. Given your context, a driver can be a social, political, economical trend, or emerging technology. 

    As a unique characteristic, drivers contain momentum. As a best practice, any driver (or synonymously trend) should indicate that momentum in its title, e.g., "increasing", "decreasing", or "staying" at a certain level of relevance. This can help to differentiate drivers from signals or themes which rather describe a certain state or field of interest.

    While collecting various opinions on a driver (from experts), you will find your organization's position towards a driver. This will help you to prioritize and decide on any action to address a driver. This, of course, requires a sufficient level of detail and exploration which is why you should pay much attention to this level of the foresight hierarchy.

  • Some attention: At the bottom of the foresight pyramid are so-called signals. Signals are single, context-specific, precise signs of change. Such signals can - theoretically - be detected by any citizen scout (meaning everyone). You can, of course, also employ dedicated scouts whose job is to collect such signals, find evidence for any driver, and inform what is going on in a theme of interest.

    A signal can originate from any observation, report, news article, patent, scientific publication, or discussion. While discovering multiple signals pointing in the same direction, you can substantiate the impact of a driver or explore a new pattern, i.e., driver.

 The best way to follow and build this hierarchy into your ITONICS Innovation OS is to create respective entities for each of the described levels of the foresight hierarchy. 

You can then easily ask anyone inside your company to share any interesting signal via your application. Your theme owners can process such signals further and package/relate them with their themes and drivers. Furthermore, they can place the themes on your landing page, giving everyone an easy access point to understand what drivers and signals have been pulled together under it. 

Such considerations should help you to organize and split the work that needs to get done in foresight. Please note that choosing the right words should build on the terms that will most likely resonate and are understood the easiest within your organization.

Building radar segments that tell a story

As mentioned, depending on your business context, you want to illustrate and identify the most impactful drivers. This can be trends, emerging technologies, or a combination of both (called drivers here). The perfect place for this is the ITONICS Radar.

The question is now what approach is the best for you to structure your radar view and how to best segment it. As the radar uses visual elements to reflect the meaning of different indicators, there are some general recommendations on what indicators to put behind the different visual options:

  • Distance to the center: indicators related to time or a process
    (e.g., time to market, recommended action)
  • Size: indicators reflecting volume
    (e.g., business potential, market size)
  • Color: indicators reflecting a level of criticality
    (e.g., urgency, relevance)

Talking about the best segmentation strategy can be more manifold:

(1) The classic - STEEP for showing competitive drivers holistically

STEEP stands for society, technology, economy, ecology, and politics. It is a widely used framework to split a business environment into mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive segments. This segmentation approach helps to ensure that all relevant factors or options are considered and that there is no duplication or overlap between the segments. 

To build such a radar have a look at the article Competitive Intelligence: How to prioritize the right actions with the ITONICS Radar.

Please note that there are different varieties of the STEEP framework that either condense or extend the aforementioned dimensions. Some possible and similar segmentations could be:

  • changing conditions, disruptive operations, emerging technologies
  • STEEP + legal, also called PESTEL 
  • SEEP, taking out a technology segment (as this might be processed in its own radar)

(2) The technology view

Another approach is to segment the content displayed on the radar by the industry it is originating from/speaking to. This can help easily to map, for instance, technologies to the right category of the corporate value chain. This often gives users a direct relationship to their business context and eases entry into the radar.

To build such a radar have a look at the article Competitive Intelligence: How to prioritize the right actions with the ITONICS Radar.

Please note that there are also other segmentation approaches along a value chain:

  • materials, production, after service
  • supporting and core technologies
  • today's and future value chains

(3) The ambition/goal radar

A third option to segment the radar is using clearly defined goals. This way it is easiest to build a direct connection between company goals and how trends, technologies, or companies can be helpful in following this direction. 

To build such a radar have a look at the article Competitive Intelligence: How to prioritize the right actions with the ITONICS Radar.

Please note that there are also other segmentation approaches along goals:

  • future capabilities/skills

(4) Proximity/company radar

A fourth option to segment the radar is using proximity. Using proximity is most often used to keep track of actions from companies. This way, it is easiest to indicate the proximity a company has to your business, i.e., is it a core competitor, edge competitor, or potential partner?  

To build such a radar have a look at the article Competitive Intelligence: How to prioritize the right actions with the ITONICS Radar.

Customer Success Story from Toyota Motor Europe


Cutting through radars by different themes

If you combine the first paragraph and the second paragraph, you might be wondering how to best adjust the radar to reflect the insights from a specific theme. 

You, of course, have the option to display your themes as segments. However, as themes might change more frequently and you do not always want to adjust your segmentation, it is recommended to place them in a separate entity. This also provides you with the option to share more details on a theme, allow for commenting and show related elements, e.g., signals and drivers.

If you now want that your users can view your radar from the specific perspective of the theme, you should make use of the "relate to" feature. The "relate to" feature is placed in the filter menu. This way, you will adjust the view to any driving force that is related to that topic.

You can now use the URL in which the filter setting is saved and place it either directly on the theme element as a button or under a button on your custom landing page

This will ease the navigation for your end users.

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