New CEO of Futures Platform: “Foresight is a success factor for every organization regardless of size”

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The past year and a half have been a powerful reminder for all organizations across the world that disruptions do occur and future-proofing your strategy is key in ensuring continued success. Juha Mattsson, the new CEO of Futures Platform, talks about new add-on services of Futures Platform to complement the offering, and the future of retail after it was upended by the pandemic.

October 2021

When Juha Mattsson was first acquainted by Futures Platform, his initial thought was that it’s a great product but relevant only for a very tight niche—people working in foresight.

Soon, he had to amend his view.

“It was a moment of epiphany to me when I realized that actually, anyone running a business larger than a roadside grill will need foresight.”

Granted, he says, for small businesses it doesn’t need to be systematic—simply staying on top of the changes in your industry and adjacent industries might be enough. Most organizations, however, will need to systematically implement foresight into their strategy work.

After the pandemic, few can argue it’s not necessary. At Futures Platform, this increasing awareness and importance of foresight is showing as growth in demand.

“We’re being contacted by not just large organizations but also government agencies all across the world, sometimes with a country-wide agenda,” Mattsson says.

“Although the pandemic’s impact is waning, people understand more concretely now that the world is changing faster and becoming more volatile, so if there ever was a time to engage in foresight, it’s now.”

Since starting as the CEO, Mattsson and his team have been working on developing add-on services that help the customers to get the most out of Futures Platform.

“Initially, we focused first on developing the SaaS platform, which absolutely made sense. Many organizations will, however, also need help in implementing foresight insights into decision-making and organizational development, and that’s what we’re looking into in more depth now.”

Future of retail and quality of phenomena

In June 2020, we interviewed Futures Platform for an article about the pandemic’s impact on society as a whole. Looking back at the article now, the predictions are startlingly accurate: eCommerce will experience a boom, the outlook for tourism and travel will remain insecure and the digitalization of the healthcare sector will accelerate, among other things.

This insight was available on a free radar called World After COVID-19. Now, Futures Platform has released a new radar with updated insight, called Exit From the COVID-19 Pandemic. For anyone looking to understand where we are at right now, including which recent changes will be permanent and which ones will not, it’s well worth taking a look.

Mattsson has extensive background in retail, with the latest post before Futures Platform as the CEO of Emmy, a web store and resale service for pre-owned brand apparel. The retail industry was among the ones most profoundly affected by the pandemic, which shows clearly on the radar as well.

“Besides the eCommerce boom, the pandemic brought us for example new payment methods and a huge leap in both home delivery services and how products are displayed online—for example, 3D viewing is becoming more and more popular.”

Mattsson is particularly interested in how the pandemic’s impact may shape the future of shopping malls. During the lockdowns they have been largely empty. People got accustomed to buy online, but will things to back to normal?

“I believe that we’ll see a development from stores to showrooms in which only a part of the selection is physically available and the rest can be viewed in 3D. Although nothing can replace human customer service for the key interactions, new technology such as robotics and AI will be used to understand individual customer needs better to instantly suggest store visitors what they might like.”

As next day delivery services continue to develop, this may mean that a shopper will no longer leave the shop with a product but receive it to her home on the same day. It would then make sense to convert a lot of the shopping mall space to local warehouses that can quickly execute these last-mile deliveries.

“But this is just one industry and one example—by looking at our domain-specific foresight radars, you can view all relevant phenomena in context and see how they impact each other.”

Science-based knowledge instead of a crystal ball

Mattsson highlights that the proven accuracy and quality of Futures Platform’s content is entirely thanks to the team of futurists who create it.

“I was very impressed to learn the depth of insight that goes into creating these phenomena and scenarios. For those unfamiliar with futurist methodology, it may seem like anyone can take a crystal ball and play around with it—but what we have in the platform is science-based, expert knowledge, which is something far beyond what you can get by just reading articles on the internet.”

Takeoff Partners has been involved in supporting the growth of Futures Platform since 2016, with Markko Vaarnas currently serving as the Chairman of the Board. Similarly to Mattsson, he also says we are living in interesting times now that organizations are moving from short-term focus on cash flow and survival to long-term views on how to thrive in the post-pandemic world.

“When companies start thinking what’s next for them, adding foresight to the strategic agenda happens almost naturally,” he says.

For an in-depth look at the Exit From the COVID-19 Pandemic, you can access the free radar here.

If you are interested in finding out how Futures Platform can help your organization, please contact Saku Koskinen, or start the 15-day free trial of the foresight solution here.