Prepare for the Unexpected: Harnessing External Insights to Prepare for Emerging Trends

Harnessing External Insights to Prepare for Emerging Trends

One of the main problems with many trend and futures reports is that they too narrowly focus on the topic at hand. For example, reports on the futures of health primarily investigate developments around technologies, consumer needs, and business models inside the healthcare industries. This siloed approach comes with the considerable risk of missing emerging trends outside the specific context that will significantly impact healthcare.

In 2020 as the pandemic was just beginning, we created a futures-of-health report for a medical company. Besides directly healthcare-related topics like AI-based diagnosis and consumerized genomics, we also wrote about a trend we labeled “Crisis of Trust.” Mainly referencing the growing polarization in public discourse and the popularity of conspiracy theories, we warned of one possible future: “Pharma companies could have to face a public debate in which scientific facts play a declining role and a healthcare conversation in which fringe theories become mainstream.” Little did we know what would follow in the autumn of 2020. But it goes further than that and continues.

In December last year, Moderna and Merck announced the results of a clinical trial involving a personalized antitumor mRNA vaccine that looks rather promising for cancer treatment. Instead of celebrating a scientific breakthrough and a beacon of hope for millions of cancer patients worldwide, some have met it with open hostility. Comments on the announcement went as far as “I’d rather die ….” This example shows that pharma companies and other healthcare providers now face a fundamental lack of trust from certain parts of the population. They need to develop new approaches to communications and education.

Companies that saw this development coming have a head start. But it’s generally challenging to spot those signals outside the usual field of experience, especially in the day-to-day hustle inside a company. Just repeating the expected futures and trends won’t help to develop more innovative and resilient strategies and products. That’s why we see it as our explicit task to broaden the horizons of our clients and provide external insights that are outside their usual perspective. If you’re interested in what could be the external insight for your context, let’s talk.

Originally published on LinkedIn.