Developed by the ASAE Foundation, ForesightWorks is an ongoing project which focuses on environmental scanning and trends. However, this is far more than just a list of the newest trends. For each trend, ASAE produces an "action brief" summarizing the trend and forecasting the trend’s future effects.
The brief also includes key uncertainties that might delay or alter the trend, supporting trends, notable data points, strategic insights that will affect associations, timing of the trend (i.e., what stage the trend is in and how quickly its impact will be felt), potential alternate futures, who will be affected, and how an organization can take action to "get ahead" of the trend and prepare for the future.
At present, ASAE ForesightWorks has an introductory set of action briefs focusing on the following three trends:
- Aging World
Most of the world is aging and the number of elderly is rising steeply, which can impact political, social, and financial priorities as nations try to work through the issues raised by this trend.
- Anticipatory Intelligence
Big data, data analytics, and artificial intelligence are all being used predict and assess changes in an organization's environment.
- Virtualized Meetings
Technologies such as virtual reality and robotics are allowing speakers and conference attendees to participate virtually.
In short, these "action briefs" dive deeply into the given topic. For example, after reviewing the brief on Aging World, I learned the following:
- Forecasts: Workforces will be older not only due to aging but to delayed retirement. GDP could slow growth in countries where the aging is occurring faster. There could be shifts in funding in communities from supporting schools to supporting healthcare and medical research, and there could be an increase in social stress with middle-aged people feeling they are cannot advance their careers since older workers are not retiring.
- Key Uncertainties: A few factors may affect the speed of this trend including the financial health of retirees, levels of immigration and fertility, and the role of automation in replacing workers
- Supporting Trends: The growing number of aging individuals is not just an American phenomenon. Europe and Japan have the oldest societies. The number of Americans age 65 and older will double by 2050. There also is a retirement savings crisis in the U.S. Other supporting trends include a declining participation rate in the U.S. workforce and a significant gap in leadership skills within companies.
- Notable Data Points: One of the most interesting data points is the one related to the retirement shortfall—40% of the workforce have nothing at all saved for retirement, and 60% of all households (at their present rate of saving) will not be prepared financially for retirement.
- Strategic Insights: The increase in retirements will result in loss of expertise and institutional knowledge. If older employees stay longer in the workforce, there may be increasing tension among the generations within the workforce.
- Taking Action: Associations can prepare themselves for the "aging world" by evaluating the current demographics of membership, developing programs to meet the needs of later career members, understanding and assessing the impact of the societal challenges associated with an aging world, and identifying the various risks associated with an aging membership.
This brief, as well as the other two, have much more information that can be covered in this blog. What I found most useful is the depth at which these trends were explored in these briefs and the suggestions for action.
What is even better about these briefs is that if you are an ASAE member, you can download for free (yes, free) the introductory set (which typically sells for $24.99).