Technology forecasting strategies

This morning in the train I skimmed through a neat report called ""strategies in technology forecasting and roadmapping" by Corporate Executive Board (this doc can be bought here). The document summarizes approaches to implement roadmapping practices to evaluate technological developmentopportunities with respect to internal capabilities and external conditions. Some excerpts I found relevant:

Firms utilize technology roadmaps to process information gathered from forecasting activities and create a visual depiction of internal capabilities, future objectives and how they may be reached in terms of existing market and competitor conditions.


  1. Extrapolators believe that the future will represent a logical extension of the past. For this group, large-scale, inexorable forces will drive the future in a continuous and reasonably predictable manner. Thus identifying past trends allows for a rational prognosis of future trends.
  2. Pattern Analysts believe that the future will reflect a replication of past events. This is based on the assumption that trends and events occur in identifiable cycles and predictable patterns.
  3. Goal Analysts believe that the future will be determined by the beliefs and actions of certain individuals and institutions. Thus the future is best projected by examining the stated and implied goals of these trendsetters and decision-makers, i.e., the longer-term implications of their goals.
  4. Counter-Punchers believe that the future will be a result of actions and events that are essentially unpredictable. This thought process approaches the future by monitoring technical and social changes then identifying a range of possible trends and events. Flexibility is inherent in this approach.
  5. Intuitors believe the future will be shaped by a complicated mixture of factors – trends, random events and the actions of key trendsetters and decision makers. This group sees no rational technique for forecasting the future, therefore it is best to gather as much information as possible and rely on information processing to handle change as it occurs.

Reference to find:

Vanston, John H. and Lawrence K. Vanston. “Planning Tools for Informed Decisions: Technical Trend Extrapolation.” Technology Futures, Inc. White Paper.

Why do I blog this I am currently trying to formalize a bit my activities related to technology forecasting, that's why I am reading/blogging these sort of cases... The report also describes a methodology to do technology roadmaps (still have to work on this part).