NEWS2 April 2009

Growing uncertainty is ‘great news’ for research

Research can light the way in tough times, says forecaster Bob Johansen

US— Researchers should see the increasingly uncertain business outlook as a great opportunity to support decision makers, forecaster Bob Johansen has told the Advertising Research Foundation’s annual conference.

In a keynote presentation at the event in New York, Johansen, a distinguished fellow at the non-profit Institute for the Future, shared his visions for the major trends of the next ten years.

Johansen said we are moving into a ‘vuca’ world: characterised by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. But, he argued, research can help light the way.

“Volatility yields to vision,” he said. “In a ‘vuca’ world, vision gets rewarded because you've got to have that long-term point of view. Uncertainty yields to understanding, and this is great news for you researchers because understanding is often based on research. So it really means you're becoming more important if you can bring that to people making strategy.”

Over the next ten years, Johansen argued, traditional problem solving will have to make way for a new set of skills.

“The next decade is going to be dominated by dilemmas,” he said. “Problems you can't solve, problems that don't go away – but you're going to have to figure out how to win anyway. So essentially you're going to have to learn how to succeed even though you can't solve.”

He highlighted the ‘vuca’ environment as one of the most important external forces set to affect advertising and research in the next ten years, along with the blurring of the physical and virtual worlds as mobile technology takes hold, and the importance of understanding and tapping into the power of social networks.

You can watch Johansen’s full presentation online here.

Author: Robert Bain