Methods of Technology Forecasting and Analysis for Firms
There is a great need for firms to consider the future. Given the rate of technological innovation and the scope and impact of disruptive technologies, if firms are to predict and exploit their future markets, the role for technological forecasting and analysis is likely to become more prominent.
In this paper, two methods (Delphi & Scenario Writing) will be examined in terms of their relative merits and use. The attention will then turn to the nature of use within the firm of both techniques in a technological forecasting context.
The Delphi method can be traced back to 1944 when the US military prepared a forecast of future technological capabilities that might be of interest. In 1946, Project RAND (an acronym for Research and Development) was established with a brief to study the "broad subject of inter-continental warfare other then surface."
The problems encountered by this project and subsequent work centred on the conflicting information solicited from the 'experts'. Single experts sometimes suffer biases; group meetings suffer from "follow the leader" tendencies and a reluctance to abandon previously stated opinions. In order to overcome these shortcomings the basic notion of the Delphi method were developed in the 1950s and 1960s at the RAND Corporation. The first uses of Delphi were in the forecasting of military requirements in the context of the 'cold war' with the Soviet Union.
The objective of Delphi applications is the reliable and creative exploration of ideas or the production of suitable information for decision-making. The Delphi Method is based on a structured process for collecting and distilling knowledge from a group of experts by means of a series of questionnaires interspersed with controlled opinion feedback. Delphi represents a useful communication device among a group of experts and thus facilitates the formation of a group judgement. This makes discussion between experts possible without permitting a certain social interactive behaviour as happens during a normal group discussion that impedes opinion forming.
The Delphi method can be broken down into the following ten steps.
1. Formation of a team to undertake and monitor a Delphi on a given subject.
2. Selection of one or more panels to participate in the exercise. Customarily, the panellists are experts in the area to be investigated.
3. Development of the first round Delphi questionnaire
4. Testing the questionnaire for proper wording (e.g., ambiguities, vagueness)
5. Transmission of the first questionnaires to the panellists
6. Analysis of the first round responses
7. Preparation of the second round questionnaires (and possible testing)
8. Transmission of the second round questionnaires to the panellists
9. Analysis of the second round responses (Steps 7 to 9 are reiterated as long as desired or necessary to achieve stability in the results.)
10. Preparation of...