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STM Trends, Projections, Identifiers

The Sheridan Group Technology Lab recently invited a well-known medical publisher to an all-day STM publishing strategy think tank session. It was an open agenda session lead by Mike Hepp, Sheridan's Director of Technology Strategy. The session really started me thinking about how publishing trends might be successfully identified before they become commonplace industry knowledge.

To help with some answers I went directly to one of my favorite sources, the literature of the World Future Society ( Many of you may be familiar with the excellent WFS monthly publication The Futurist. A little background discovery work revealed a short entry in a WFS general information piece called: 7 Ways to Spot Tomorrow's Trends Today (The Art of Forecasting: Preparing for a Changing World, WFS, March 2013). The information, based on 45 years of trends analysis, led the WFS to create a list of seven techniques for trend identification, namely:

  1. Scan the Media to Identify Trends - formalized research and surveys
  2. Analyze and Extrapolate Trends - plot the direction and development into the future
  3. Develop Scenarios - describe the developments
  4. Ask the Experts - carefully structure polls
  5. Use Computer Modeling - simulate complex system behavior
  6. Explore Models with Simulations - create role play models based upon the simulations
  7. Create the Vision - visioning for the big picture

Fascinating list of techniques! Very useful. If you are interested in the results of the application of techniques such as these don't miss reading The Secret Life of Big Data in the Year 2020 by Brian David Johnson, a futurist from Intel Corp (The World Future Society. The Futurist. July/August 2012). A quote by Johnson from the article, "My job as Intel’s futurist is to look 10 to 15 years out and model how people will act and interact with devices in the future." Here is a link to that article:

Maybe we can adopt some of these techniques in our constant search for the trends before they happen!



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Mike Hepp
Susan Parente

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