Horizon Scanning

Horizon scanning is a technique to detect and identify emerging developments, trends and other signals of change through the systematic analysis of trusted source materials. It is used by businesses, organisations and governments to identify risks and opportunities in their emerging environment.

A horizon scan provides space within which appropriate action can be taken before the full impacts of changes are felt. The information gathered during horizon scanning can be essential when creating strategy or responding to these changes, such as natural disasters, political instability, unstable market forces, etc.


Horizon scanning software and toolkit

At Shaping Tomorrow, our horizon scanning software utilises a unique collective intelligence approach, using both Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Human Intelligence (HI) to provide breadth of knowledge, speed and collaborative thinking.

Shaping Tomorrow’s unrivalled and purpose-built horizon scanning software can be used to:

  • Scan for emerging intelligence reports
  • Plan your organization’s anticipatory strategy
  • Act on your decisions at the right time
  • Network and share emerging challenges
  • Learn how to be more resilient to changes
  • Research future opportunities and risks
  • Stay ahead of your competition
  • Find ‘next practice’ solutions to your emerging issues
  • Keep abreast of potential market developments
  • Stimulate your collective creative imagination
  • See opportunities for growth and progress

We are living in a changing, challenging world and our horizon scanning toolkit can equip you with the information you need to adapt… before you need to adapt.

Such changes might include the emergence of new technologies (e.g, fracking, telepresence), social change (e.g, ageing populations, globalisation, and a shift to focus on well-being) or environmental degradation (e.g, climate change, loss of biodiversity and sustainability). 

Newly discovered material is presented in a dashboard of visualizations and forecasts providing a view of the world at a glance. Information is derived from over 90,000 foresight sources and more than 200,000 experts, influencers, think-tanks and information pundits from around the world.


Horizon scanning examples

Access to the Shaping Tomorrow horizon scanning toolkit will allow you to search this database of 90,000 foresight sources to discover emerging political, economic, social or technological change, for any topic relevant to you and your anticipated and unanticipated needs.

Below are some horizon scanning examples of results for a search for ‘electric buses’ to demonstrate the type of results that the system returns:

Alternatively, you can view any of the ready-made 16 Global Challenges, which cover more than 400 related topics, to quickly stay abreast of emerging change in popular subject areas, watch our short video below to see how you can do that:


Horizon scanning process and techniques

The horizon scanning process is a highly data-driven task that necessitates a detailed methodology for collecting information and evidence, interpreting and validating the findings, and making informed decisions and policies.

Horizon scanning techniques include environmental scanning, trend analysis , gap analysis , risk assessment, and other similar approaches. The technique may be applied to any specific area a business wants to explore, such as politics, social or economics.

The horizon scanning process is delivered through several stages:

  1. Our unique AI, named Athena, continuously scans over 90,000 reputable internet and social media sources hunting for and extracting evidence of change such as emerging technologies, social movements and environmental trends. 
  2. These are then revealed in instant futures reports and customised newsletters.
  3. The data revealed in these reports are then used by businesses to inform strategy going forward and to react to the findings.

Since 2015, Athena has extracted nearly 2,000,000 forecasts of upcoming change from the web and social media. She does the work of over 10,000 researchers, tirelessly and consistently. We continue to develop her as the world's greatest horizon scanner.

Horizon scanners try to identify possible challenges and opportunities in the short, medium, and long term. The aim is to create an awareness of possible future events, so that the appropriate steps may be taken in order to manage change.

It should be noted that the identification of something like a trend does not necessarily mean it will come to fruition; horizon scanners attempt to identify trends for which action can be taken. Therefore the third stage of the process - where the data is analysed and turned into a specific strategy for the business is just as important as the data itself.


Horizon scanning risk management

Horizon scanning is often thought of in terms of technological innovation, market perception, social issues and political decisions, but it can be just as valuable to businesses to support their risk management strategy.

Horizon scanning can be applied on a broad scale within an organisation, looking at how trends are changing in demographics, technology or consumer behaviour. Or, on a smaller scale can be used on individual projects or initiatives so they are not caught out by changing market forces or changes in legislation. Horizon scanning is not just about knowing what's coming, it's also about understanding how to manage change and the risks attached to that change.

Horizon scanning uses knowledge of trends, technologies and other factors which can be used as intelligence for making critical decisions. Horizon scanning is a process where information from around the world is synthesised and analysed so informed decisions can be made.

As well as looking forward, the analysis of horizon scanning for risk management also involves looking backwards at past decisions, analysing how they succeeded or failed so lessons can be learned when applying them in the future. Horizon scanning provides perspective on market dynamics, social changes or political decisions which will shape the business landscape in future years.



What people say about our horizon scanning services

“Shaping Tomorrow has been a first go-to for me for environmental scanning for the past 5-6 years. I read their trend reports on a regular basis to keep aware of weak signals across diverse disciplines. The new service is intriguing and masterful. This tool will quickly become indispensable to foresight practitioners who are at the cutting edge of design and innovation for business, government or society.”

Anonymous client

“In my recent discussions with London futurists, Shaping Tomorrow was held in high regard. What intrigues me most about Shaping Tomorrow, based on our conversation last month, is your focus on producing insight and strategic foresight for business strategy. My aim is to expand my knowledge of the capabilities necessary for best practice horizon scanning that can have real impact on organisations' strategic planning. As I make my transition from government back to the private sector your training will be especially helpful to me in this regard.” 

U.S. Federal Government official

“Shaping Tomorrow provides an effective and powerful horizon scanning solution, which selects useful insights and delivers concise analyses. Their tool facilitates the identification and analysis of potential future issues and trends which may impact the business and is beginning to inform risk management processes and key decision making in our company.”

Kate Roberts, an ST blue-chip client

If you would like to find out more about our horizon scanning services, then please contact us using the form below: