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04. Future Intelligence: Methodologies for Meaningful Futurization

Netflix research and the use o qualitative research
Netflix research case

Netflix's transition from a DVD rental service to a global streaming model highlights the impact of quantitative analysis in identifying habits and rental trends. As broadband internet became widespread, Netflix engaged in qualitative research, collecting user online viewing habits. Seeing the move towards online streaming before competitors, they invested in a robust streaming platform and original content. Real-time data analytics enabled Netflix to understand viewer preferences, leading to customized content and align constantly their approaches with market feedback.

Studying the future is akin to navigating an "ocean of uncertainty." The equivalents of compasses and maps in this realm are processes that meld research methods, collective dynamics, and creativity techniques. These must be tailored to the challenges and opportunities we aim to anticipate. Methodologies for meaningful futurization enable us to chart courses toward alternative futures, facilitating informed decision-making amid evolving landscapes.

Quantitative methods. The facts

If the necessary data is available, it is possible, for example, to formulate structural equations, or create simulations, among other mathematical tools. The data can illuminate specific trends and provide relevant information to predict changes, from demographics to digital processor capacity.

Mathematical methods can reveal patterns and correlations in data sets, the more data, the better.

Qualitative methods. The Experience

Interviews, focus groups, or content analysis are some of the many qualitative techniques and strategies that allow us to value people's experiences, based on grounded consensus. Qualitative techniques can be likened to a compass that indicates possible directions toward the future.

Human and contextual factors influence the future, and to develop meaningful frameworks, their deep understanding is needed.

Mixed methods. The maps

Generally, futurization processes utilize a mixture of methods that synergize data and experience, incorporating both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Examples of these processes include scenarios or action-research projects. These can be metaphorically compared to nautical charts, providing visual guidance for charting courses towards the future.

The holistic approach to future challenges allows for posing complex research questions. To derive meaningful answers, it's essential to harmonize the objectivity of data with the richness of human experiences.

Tools and techniques. The instruments.

At the operational level of future studies, a multitude of tools and techniques are employed, ranging from data analysis and visualization programs to collaboration platforms. Extending the nautical metaphor, these tools are as diverse as quadrants, chronometers, radars, or probes, offering a rich array of instruments for designing methods and processes for futurization.

The relentless innovation in futurization tools and techniques equips any organization with the capacity to manage its transformation towards new horizons.

Validation and evaluation. The Credibility

Future studies must be validated by establishing quality and rigor criteria in the formalization and application of methods. Some of the "sextants" that guarantee the quality and relevance of the results obtained are the comparison of the results with previous studies or the precise identification of limitations.

The generation of solid and applicable knowledge about the future must balance the rationality of research and the talent for innovation.

Future Intelligence Methodologies: Sources and further readings

Hastings, R., & Meyer, E. (2020). No rules: Netflix and the culture of reinvention. Penguin.

Creswell, J. W., & Plano Clark, V. L. (2017). Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research. Sage Publications.

Bishop, P., Hines, A., & Collins, T. (2007). The current state of scenario development: an overview of techniques. Foresight, 9(1), 5-25.

Inayatullah, S. (2008). Six pillars: futures thinking for transforming. foresight, 10(1), 4-21.

Josep Monguet Fierro

Professor at the UPC. Founder of SmartDelphi, Onsanity, and Innex Experience in digital healthcare innovation. Research coordinator of “Master Barcelona Design” UPC-UB.



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