Despite being associated with technology, futurists have rarely used digital technology as a central tool of their work until recent years. Most methods developed or used for futures studies and strategic foresight (e.g. horizon scanning, system mapping) can be performed without digital technology. However, when futurists have integrated their methods into software, they have saved themselves countless hours of work and stress. Many organizations use their own proprietary software, but rarely is such software made available to the general public.
To assist futures professionals, we compiled a list of all the publicly available software that has been developed to perform futurist methods. We had two primary conditions for this list. First, it must be software that is specifically developed to perform the functions of futurists. As such we did not include any general purpose digital technology often used by futurists such as Google Alerts. Second, the software had to be publicly accessible, free or paid. This meant we did not include any software used to help administer RAND’s Delphi technique except for The Millennium Project’s Real Time Delphi which is freely available.
These services are helping to make futures thinking more accessible to a broader public. Each service has its own strengths and weaknesses that would suit different users. We would encourage you to look at each of them and evaluate them individually on their utility for your purposes.
One issue we had was whether to include prediction markets. Ross and I both had several pros and cons for why they should or should not be included. Ultimately, we have given them their own list. If you are interested, here is our list of prediction markets that are relevant for futurists.
To read my review of 12 of these tech companies, follow this link to Ross Dawson’s blog.