FAZIT – Research Project for Current and Future IT and Media Technologies in Baden-Württemberg (Germany)


Online Foresight Guide

Designing a Foresight Exercise

Setting-up a Foresight Exercise

Running Foresight

Implementation and Follow-up

Designing a Foresight Exercise

Reasons for Using Foresight

The foresight exercise is part of the project FAZIT. The aim of FAZIT is to understand the current and future ICT market in three areas that were identified as crucial for Baden-Württemberg’s competitiveness: the implications of ICT and media for people and society, the technologies and processes involved and the branches affected by ICT. Therefore, FAZIT contains four modules: monitoring the current status of use of information and communication technology (ICT), the foresight exercise, knowledge transfer to the public and the scientific community, and the project management. A long-term perspective on the subjects is regarded as necessary.

Focus and Objectives

The government of the region (Landesregierung Baden-Württemberg) set the focus to look at social, economic and market demands with different approaches to gain different perspectives on the field(s). One part of the project is a foresight process with a long-term view, integrating different methodologies. The reason is that FAZIT aims to systematically understand and analyze the impact of long-term trends in ICT, and at the same time to foster the dialogue and discussion among the regional experts in the respective research areas. The details of objectives and methods applied in the project are the result of discussions between the government as the client and the institutes involved.

"In the scope of FAZIT, foresight is understood as an integrated research approach that scientifically anticipates trends and developments for the ICT and media sector and presents development alternatives. Hereby, the emphasis lies on the concurrent examination of technology potential, market demand and the value for society in general. (…)

The project consortium of FAZIT agrees with FISTERA's view that foresight is understood as a vehicle to debate possible alternative futures, rather than a means of predicting the future. Foresight in FAZIT is an integrated research approach to anticipate scientifically alternative future developments. Consequently, FAZIT follows an explorative research approach, oriented on technological developments as well as on market demands. Social demands and so-called social mega-trends have to be taken into account as well as local market conditions and business structures. Regional experts are involved consequently in all research steps and the research dialogue and creation of new R&D networks will be supported. The goal is to strengthen the leading position of the region of Baden-Württemberg within Germany and Europe by a broad transfer of FAZIT results on the future market opportunities for ICT and media into the region." (Kimpeler/Döbler)

To achieve this, the areas "individual and society", "technology & processes", as well as "areas of usage & sectors" concerning the ICT and media sector in Baden-Württemberg were chosen. The foresight part will apply Delphi surveys, scenarios and a roadmap. Interdisciplinary and international expertise will be involved to include the international perspective. In the final report, these cross-cutting issues dealing with social as well as technical and economic/ market issues will be summed up and integrated into a roadmap.

Time Horizon

According to the objectives of this foresight exercise, a middle range horizon of 15 years was chosen. It is short enough to refrain from mere speculations, but long enough to guide long-term investments of governmental and economic actors.

Users

Users of FAZIT will be all persons who are interested in the issues. This might be the general public, industry, research institutions or the regional government, all kinds of decision-makers. The involvement of users – i.e., regional decision-makers – is an important part of FAZIT. Different types of conferences, workshops and interviews are employed to present FAZIT and its results and at the same time make use of the knowledge of different kind of experts. At the center of these participative aspects are the three Delphi surveys which will involve about 1,000 experts each. The involvement of external experts also aims at building public support for the project and at helping to promote results.

Coverage

Since ICT are ubiquitous technologies, a broad range of topics must be covered by FAZIT. In "individuals and society", among others, mobility, safety, entertainment and individual health are covered; in the area of "technology and processes", hard- and software as well as ICT services are analyzed, while in the area of "applications and sectors", effects of ICT on different branches are focused on. The details still have to be clarified but one approach takes over the results from the previous one.

Previous and Existing Work

The foresight exercise in FAZIT relies on previous foresights done in Germany, especially the comprehensive Delphi ’98. Studie zur globalen Entwicklung von Wissenschaft und Technik (comprehensive Delphi survey about the global development of science and technology). Its methodological approach explicitly includes the interrelation of economic, social and political factors for innovation and progress in the field of ICT. For detailed information, different studies from the ICT fields and experts (internal and external) are consulted.

Available Resources

FAZIT started on 1st of January, 2005, and will go on for three to four years. Its budget of about 3 million Euro altogether is provided by the government of Baden-Württemberg. The budget for the foresight part is about 940.000 Euro. Three different institutes with their respective special knowledge are involved: the MFG Foundation Baden-Württemberg, the Centre for Economic Research (ZEW), Mannheim, and the Fraunhofer Institute Systems and Innovation Research (Fraunhofer ISI), Karlsruhe. ISI is responsible for the foresight part.

Setting-up a Foresight Exercise

Building Support

The three different institutions MFG Foundation, Fraunhofer ISI and ZEW were chosen for support because they have the special knowledge needed and because they are all located in the region Baden-Württemberg.

Building a Team

The teams of the different institutes meet regularly to discuss the methodological approaches, new results and the organization of the whole process. In the institutes, the teams work relatively independently but try to foster interdisciplinarity because the subject as such is broad. The tasks and work packages are clearly split: Fraunhofer ISI is responsible for foresight, ZEW for surveys on the current situation and the MFG for communications, e.g. with the advisory board, the regional government, the other institutes, and the overall project management.

A kind of steering committee/ advisory board supervises the process and is directly involved also in the foresight part to bring in specific knowledge.

Methods

Given the broad aim of FAZIT and relatively good financing, three different foresight methods could be combined. Three Delphi surveys generate and filter the most important aspects. They are each followed by a scenario workshop to explore chosen aspects more thoroughly. After that, a roadmap will show different paths to different futures. With this combination, researchers hope to overcome the limits of each of the employed methods and provide the interested actors with general information about the future concerning the issues chosen. Fraunhofer ISI has sound experience with foresight exercises in general and the three methods mentioned in particular.

The combination was chosen because the Delphi surveys are supposed to generate the topics (sources: literature, interviews, later on also workshops), assess them so that the most important ones can be filtered out and seen in their timely context. In the scenarios, “pictures” of the year 2025 describe the situation and the development of that specific time. And the roadmap will sum up the results in a more comfortable way to describe the path(s) into the future. The combination of the methods is therefore unique providing qualitative and quantitative information.

Identifying and Selecting Participants

For the Delphi survey, experts either in the field of ICT itself or in the aspects (mobility, health etc.) mentioned above had to be identified by screening publicly available data bases (e.g. Hoppenstedt, Vademecum etc.). Another source was lists of participants in conferences and conference speakers in ICT areas. For the first Delphi survey, already more than 1000 persons were identified and approached.

In the different parts of the process, participants will be invited according to their knowledge, with different backgrounds, representing different parts of the society. The “broad public” will not be involved.

Communications

As mentioned above, communication is part of all stages of the FAZIT project, including the communication with participants in the Delphi process with letters, questionnaires (postal and electronic), experts meetings, conferences and workshops. Additionally, a web-site (www.fazit-forschung.de) and a newsletter are available. The responsible persons of the institutes meet regularly to discuss the progress of the project. All other communication is organised via e-mail.

Running Foresight

Managing the Project and Knowledge in the Project

In all institutes, project managers are responsible for their specific work packages. They meet regularly to discuss and plan the progress of the project with the overall consortium leader MFG. In the institutes, the project teams consist of persons from different departments and with different backgrounds, e.g. in ISI three departments are involved, managed by one person who also represents the institute in the general meetings. The project managers report regularly to the MFG and the advisory board.

Collecting Information

The areas of interest of the FAZIT project were chosen by the participating institutes on the basis of their former studies and the available literature. For each area, a group of experts was formed to actively accompany the research process and to further focus the process, if necessary. In the groups, additional information was gathered. The different methods applied in the foresight part of the project make use of different sources according to the method chosen. The first foresight method applied is the Delphi "Individuals and society", for this, the topics were generated in internal workshops, interviews with experts and mainly literature searches. The assessment of the information and later analysis is based on the Delphi procedure in two rounds. The next Delphi surveys will make use of expert workshops more than the first one with its limitation in time. The scenarios will also be based on expert workshops.

Processing Information

The Delphi survey is a survey among recognised experts which takes place in several rounds. While normally asked about the probable point in time when a certain technology or research result will be available, in the first FAZIT Delphi experts are asked for the estimated probability that certain events and developments will take place up to 2020. For each area, statements are developed and presented to roughly 1000 experts for them to estimate their probability and effects. In a second round, the consolidated results are returned to the same experts and evaluated by them once more. The goal is to systematically capture the estimates and judgments of the experts and identify "interesting uncertainties" or discrepancies.

The word expert is defined relatively broad. Experts either in the field of ICT itself or in the aspects (mobility, health etc.) mentioned above were identified by screening publicly available data bases (e.g. Hoppenstedt, Vademecum, Internet, conference proceedings etc.). Another source was lists of participants and speakers in ICT areas. The database is updated for every Delphi survey and experts with relevant knowledge are added or persons with different knowledge omitted. Until now, the response rates are very good. One has to consider that the only incentive for the participants is to generate information and receive them earlier than other external persons.

Following the Delphi surveys and the discussions in the FAZIT expert groups, scenarios will be designed for the three areas of interest for the period up to 2020. One scenario describes the future visions within a leading theme. A hypothetical sequence of events within the future vision shows which interactive effects/ impacts and momentum for decisions can exist. The scenario and impacts are underpinned in a multi-stage process by means of estimates, assessments and commentaries from recognised experts and the transfer to Baden-Württemberg is discussed.

The concluding roadmap closes the gap between "today" and the future visions of the scenarios by pointing out several paths which can be followed to open up new markets. At the centre are the intermediary stations and possible critical bottleneck factors, from which the urgent recommendations for action and research subjects result.

Expected Outputs

The FAZIT project has started in 2005, and will continue until 2008. The process is meant to produce intangible outputs like the discussion of probable and possible futures among scientists and experts from society, the economy and politics. In different workshop formats (e.g. scenario workshop, Delphi workshop for topic generation) relevant information are collected and distributed. More tangible outputs include papers, especially those published in the FAZIT newsletter (see website), and the final reports like the Delphi reports. The challenge is to write the reports in such a way that participants and decision-makers are interested in the results and make use of them. No one can be forced to implement or make use of the results. They are not more than an offer for those who are interested. The publications should be accompanied by some public relations activities.

Implementation and Follow-up

The implementation of results of the FAZIT project is an ever present task of the project. Many decision-makers of the political, economic and societal sphere are involved in all stages of the project, receiving information on a regular basis and they may influence the process itself in workshops and conferences. These participants are multipliers and users of the information generated. The decision-makers and the government as well as all other interested parties may receive the newsletter and all final reports to be informed about the results. When the reports are available, more promotion of the information will follow. Therefore, the tangible results are as important as the process itself.

Until now, the consortium has an advisory function and it is unclear if it is expected to check up on the implementation or follow-up of recommendations. There are so far no plans to evaluate the exercise formally.

Expected Lessons to be learned

The government of Baden-Württemberg expects information about the present state and the future situation of the ICT and media sector from different perspectives and in the context of economy, science and society. This is supposed to be distributed to all interested parties as an offer. Those persons, institutions or parties who are interested are allowed to make use of the data but nobody can be forced to do so. Some public relations activities have to be developed to accompany the publications. We will see which ones are suitable to evoke a sufficient interest.

The other expectations concern the methodological developments in the foresight part of the project: To gain an overview via the combination of the three methods of Delphi surveys, scenarios and a roadmap as a tangible result is unique. With this approach it is tested if and how the different ways of gathering information fit together and can be based upon each other. Especially the way Delphi surveys generate data as an input into scenario workshops may improve the methodology (what has to be asked in the questionnaire?) on the one hand, and give impetus to different scenario discussions on the other hand. Until now, the application of Delphi data to construct scenarios or roadmaps was rather unplanned or ad hoc (see the German national Delphi '98 or the German Mini Delphi studies of 1995). In many cases, combinations were planned but could not be combined directly (see the national foresight activities in Hungary or South Africa). This deficit has to be overcome to generate more sound pictures of the future and roadmaps to reach "the future" aimed at, or better: the targets set during the process.

Together with the data that are generated by the surveys of ZEW about the state of the art in the sector, an overall picture shall be drawn that helps to structure and develop measures for the competitiveness of Baden-Württemberg.