Future studies, also known as futurology or foresight, involves the study of the past and present to make educated guesses about the future. The data gathered from these studies can be used to predict possible or probable future events or situations. It can also be used to design a way to reach preferable future conditions.
Many people believe that history is cyclical, or that certain circumstances will be seen again and again. This is the principle that future studies is based on. Searching history, and present times, for patterns can allow future forecasters a way to predict the future based on current conditions, and how those conditions have affected outcomes in the past. A lot of future studies uses cause and effect. For example, if a government is being unjust or is unpopular with the citizens of that country, the current government is either changed or overthrown. This has been seen hundreds of times throughout history, and will probably be a pattern seen a hundred more times.
There are numerous applications for future studies. One possible application is as a way to predict future fashion and design fads. The fashion market typically needs to work 18 months in advance, allowing the designers time to design, advertise, and manufacture the future styles. The stock market is another area where futurology is used. Determining which companies are likely to become successful, and which ones are heading for bankruptcy, requires the ability to use future studies correctly.
New businesses and organizations can use future studies to improve the likelihood of their success. Studying how other similar companies started, and how their business is run, can give a new business a lot of insight to different strategies. There are likely to be a lot of differences between a company that is making a lot of money and a company that didn't last more than a year. By studying these differences, a new company can determine its own success, following the steps of the more successful companies.
Some say that future studies cannot predict long-term events and trends in the way that it could a decade ago. Global changes in technology, communication, and marketing have resulted in scenarios that no one could have predicted. Change is happening at a faster pace than ever before in history. It will be difficult to foresee future trends because of these changes. New future studies professionals will need to be able to consider these new trends carefully before creating their predictions.