Technology Foresight Tools and Methods

Technology analysis and foresight, innovation management and strategic planning are fields of activity with wide-ranging demands. Different methods and tools are used for the various different tasks of our CTFTIP and WZA business units. Here, we will primarily present those methods with a quantitative or discursive and participatory focus.

Our tools and methods portfolio also includes other qualitative approaches, including creative methods, moderation techniques and knowledge management. We are also continuously looking for new, innovative approaches and tool testing. Methodological critique and development take place both internally and with external partners.

The interplay of methods in the context of technology analyses and foresight is described in more detail in relation to the aspects of technology analyses, technology monitoring and technology radar.


Bibliometrics deals with the quantitative analysis of publication data such as Web of Science, Scopus or Dimensions. In the context of Fraunhofer INT, bibliometrics is primarily used for technology foresight. Here, there is often a qualitative part (as a supporting research method) and a quantitative part (analysis methods). Bibliometric analyses can be used, for example, to identify relevant actors, find key publications and trace the development of a certain topic. The insights gained from this play a key role when it comes to strategic decisions.

Patent Searches and Analyses

The quantitative analysis of the patent literature and corresponding search results can support decision-making by being used to adjust or realign technology strategies. For example, technology intelligence activities are used to search for relevant players who could be considered as partners or competitors. 

KATI System

The KATI system (Knowledge Analytics for Technology & Innovation) was developed at Fraunhofer INT for bibliometric analyses. This system is also regularly used internally for customized analysis and visualization of bibliometric data. Patents are also being added to the system as part of a doctoral project.

Bibliometric Tools

In addition to the software used, smaller assistance tools are also programmed as required, such as scripts with and without their own graphical user interface, which facilitate routines related to the analyses.

Advanced Analytics

For decision-making processes, identifying possible emergent technologies and topics, for example, may be just as important as white spot analyses. Analytical methods and concepts that go beyond descriptive approaches and are grouped under the term “advanced analytics” can make a significant contribution in these cases. The (partial) advanced analytics methods used at Fraunhofer INT, in addition to bibliometrics and patentometrics, include data mining and text mining, text analysis including semantic analysis, classification methods, sentiment analysis, regression and association analysis, big data analysis, network and cluster analysis, machine learning, deep learning, neural networks and visualization concepts.

Weighted Bit Assessment Method (WBAM)

In the context of innovation processes, it is often necessary to evaluate different technologies for the subsequent planning process. With various criteria, this method can be used to assess the innovation potential of new technologies within an industry, the capability gaps or research needs in a particular application area, or the criticality of technologies, taking into account both any existing data and expert assessments. The results can be used within an innovation process to identify significant new technologies for end users or to estimate the development and implementation effort required for different technological solutions. These WBAM assessments provide a clear basis for subsequent planning and innovation processes.

Red Teaming

Red teaming is a concept for analyzing and evaluating organizations and procedures, for example, often involving a scenario-based and participatory approach. In addition to strengths and opportunities, possible weaknesses or risks — e.g., of technologies, systems, processes or applications — are to be identified and analyzed in order to derive conceivable countermeasures.

Scenario Technique

For products with relatively long development times, it is necessary to anticipate future requirements at an early stage and to initiate the necessary research or development in good time. However, the long-term forecasting of developments (e.g., within a certain industry) is only possible to a limited extent due to the large number of influencing variables. The scenario technique bridges this gap by identifying plausible future developments — the actual scenarios — in a structured way. Unlike other foresight techniques, the scenario technique produces multiple “possible futures”. These can then be used to more clearly define the company’s own technology development, product program planning, innovation planning, etc. In addition, search fields can usually be derived from the scenarios, and their progress is regularly assessed within the context of innovation management.

More about the method

Future Game

With the help of the social gaming format “The Future Game”, technological needs can be ascertained in local workshops, so that they can be subsequently analyzed and then transfered into strategy. The aim of the game is to develop initial small-scale strategies in relation to overarching thematic fields and to use innovations as tools to achieve different overarching themes (“the missions”). To achieve this, both technological innovations (from a technology shortlist) and social innovations are converted in advance into tool cards that are as easy to understand as possible. These cards also briefly explain the functionality of each innovation. In a first step, the participants decide which overarching theme/mission they would like to design through the game and, in the next step, they select tools they think they would need to do this. There are three rounds of the game, i.e., three different thematic missions. Using different game phases, both within the group (reflection phases, consultation phases) and in exchange with another group (discussion phases, panel phases), creates an interactive and varied gaming experience for the participants. The game can be adapted to different contexts in which needs-based technologies and innovations are to be identified.

Knowledge Management

Knowledge management describes the deliberate and systematic handling of knowledge resources and the targeted use of knowledge. This encompasses the entirety of the concepts, strategies and methods that facilitate “learning” in the figurative sense at the organizational level and support the application of (practical) knowledge and skills. The collection, selection, storage, expansion, replacement/updating of knowledge and knowledge transfer are all examples of knowledge management.