future intelligence

The Future Intelligence Process

Competitive Futures has been providing global businesses and government agencies with strategic intelligence based on The Future Intelligence Process since 2002. We designed this approach to incorporate tactical competitive intelligence methodologies with the long-range strategic approach of futures studies to give clients a view of uncertainty many years into the future, with enough insight into today’s issues to respond to current managerial challenges. This way, day-to-day management doesn’t suffer from fatal myopia and strategy exercises don’t fail to incorporate current realities.

We’ve helped clients achieve significant value with this process, and it continues to be the basis of all of our research projects.

1. Systems Thinking

All projects begin with systems analysis. Starting with the ultimate value to the client in mind, we analyze activities, stakeholders, external factors, and everything that might go into our client’s future.

Value to the project

  • Guides trend research

    This step identifies which changes are most important so you can gather data

  • Unlocks creativity

    Looking at more elements of the future lets you see more risks and opportunities

  • Reduces surprise

    Ultimately, incorporating more factors in strategic analysis helps reduce surprises down the road

systems map musical instrument industry

2. Trend analysis

Once the systems map has been established, Competitive Futures begins the process of collecting and analyzing trends in a variety of areas, from competitor behavior to intellectual property to social, economic, and technological trends.

If it matters to you, we find it, track it, and tell you what it means.

trend analysis

Value to the project

  • Provides rigor

    To have a proper discussion about the future, executives need to start from reliable information

  • Challenges assumptions

    Our view of the world is often outdated until we see recent trend data

  • Identifies uncertainty

    This step shows you where trend data is impossible to get, revealing key uncertainties to track later

3. Forecast Assessment

Once the systems map has been established and trend research has shown us hard data, we then look to the experts in a variety of fields to give us their opinions on where the future is headed.

Their greatest value may be limited to their field of expertise, but it is critical to understand where they see their fields headed in the years to come.

forecast assessment

Value to the project

  • Consults top experts

    No analyst can be an expert in every field, so we listen to the best in the business

  • Steals good ideas*

    If smart people are already analyzing the future, take their work and run with it (*with proper attribution)

  • Keeps things future-focused

    Trend data is inherently backward-looking; this keeps the analysis looking ahead, where your organization is headed anyway

tight oil forecast 2040
Television advertising revenue forecast
US GDP forecast 2040

4. Strategic Implications


With the systems map defined, trend data collected, and expert forecasts understood, we ask a series of questions to get at the heart of what the future could mean to our client. We ask:

  • So what?
  • What if…?
  • What else?
strategic implications

Value to the project

  • Focuses on client impact

    Makes sure that this isn’t merely an “interesting” discussion, turns into real value

  • Explores risks and opportunities

    Makes sure that the future is neither seen as all good or bad, but potential outcomes

  • Gets radical

    It isn’t until you consider the impact of trends and forecasts that you realize that the future is a big deal and requires action today

5. Scenario Generation

One of the most important outputs of the strategic implications process is in the generation of scenarios. The future will look quite different depending on a variety of uncertainties, and it isn’t until the narratives are properly elaborated that most executives can see where their current decisions will lead.

Whether quantitative or qualitative, scenario generation is the most important step in formulating a strategy.

future scenarios

Value to the project

  • Brings the work together

    Scenarios bring the abstract parts of foresight together to be understood by many different audiences

  • Makes you think about communications

    Now it’s time for the work to bring value to others

  • Keeps things future-focused

    Trend data is inherently backward-looking; this keeps the analysis looking ahead, where your organization is headed anyway

6. Communications

To bring value to an organization, the findings of a Future Intelligence project should be communicated to different parts of the organization in different ways.

strategic implications

Value to the project

  • Impacts operations

    By getting the findings of the project around the organization, action can be taken now

  • Involves broad constituency

    This phase makes you realize that different constituents have different needs when it comes to strategic insights

  • Inspires dialogue

    There is no future but the one we create, and that creation begins with dialogue, especially the kind sparked by this sort of the research and analysis

Future Intelligence at Work

Here are just a few representative examples of our work in service to world-class organizations.

  • Competitive Intelligence services from Competitive Futures
    Competitive Intelligence
  • Economic Development
  • Technology Foresight
  • Scenario Planning
  • Product Strategy services from Competitive Futures
    Product Strategy
  • Corporate Strategy
  • Competitive Futures Due Diligence Services
    Due Diligence
  • Executive Education in business strategy
    Executive Education

Get Future Intelligence Working for you

Looking to create a future-focused strategy for your organization? Contact Competitive Futures and we can customize a Future Intelligence project starting today.

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