Methods Used in Future Technology Analysis and its Selection: an application to VTOL transportation system

Yazan, Abdurrahman M. Methods Used in Future Technology Analysis and its Selection: an application to VTOL transportation system. Monte de Caparica: IET Working Papers Series, 2016.

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Change is happening at an ever faster rate today, driven partly by technological changes leading to changes in all other areas of our lives. Today’s global trends, uncertainties, and surprises have the potential to significantly change the way the world works tomorrow. Shaping the world we want to live in means being more aware of the future and seeking better approaches. In such increasingly uncertain environment, planning uncertainties force policy and decision makers to foster future-oriented technology analyses (FTA) by using foresight methodologies. FTA can help us react on the likely directions of technologies, manage the risks involved and shape technological trajectories in order to improve the long term benefits to society. Foresight methodologies seek to gather data and make sense of it so that people can think in different and new ways about the future. That data might be collected from humans or from the analysis of documents and artefacts, or both. The data might be analysed using qualitative or quantitative techniques, or both. To be used in strategy processes, however, data needs to be analysed, interpreted and used in ways that make sense to the organisation. There is no single set of methods used in all foresight activities. The methods used need to reflect the resources available and the objectives of the exercise. The choice of methods is critical, though it often appears to be based upon what is fashionable or which practitioners have experience in. The methods may be organised and interrelated in different ways. In other terms, the conduct of foresight analyses needs to be tailored to the type. The first thing to do is to choose the right methods which are most appropriate to the analysis and technology characteristics. One of the substantial advances has been a move away from a tool or method driven approach to one which relies on the selection of tools in accord with their appropriateness for the particular issue being examined, their relative strengths and limitations. Thus, the experience of observing so many developing nations attempting to conduct a Japanese style Delphi survey, with an extremely limited number of ‘experts’ and doubtful relevance of estimated technology realisation times to their economy, indicates the need to develop foresight appropriate to local conditions. Their use and contribution will be determined primarily by the values, structures and cultures of the organisations applying them. This paper will try to discuss the importance of future oriented technology analysis, in particularly technology foresight, and the question of how to select the best methodology among the existing ones. Although this paper intends to lay a framework and cover the tools used in technology futures analysis, in particularly emerging air transportation technologies, a full understanding of each of these tools is out of this paper. The conduct of analysis needs to be tailored to the type. The first thing to do is to choose the right tools which are most appropriate to the analysis and the technology characteristics. Thus, we have to set the criteria and figure out key aspects and factors for designing our research. In our case, the key aspects and factors are: it is a long term vision for 10-15 years later; an emerging air transportation mode; a socio- technological system of systems in transportation area which is composed of resources and stakeholders network, drivers and disruptors; and also normative, both qualitative and quantitative, national and global. The probably research tools that can be used are; agent based modelling, cost benefit analysis, scenarios, impact analysis, case study (Visioning), subjective judgement, roadmap, interviews, benefit visualization tool, literature reviews, and attending conferences.

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