We used three methods to identify Specific Product Groups and Technology Areas that are likely to emerge within a decade:
1) analysis of numerical “likelihood ratings” by the participants,
2) spontaneous predictions made in individual interviews with each expert participant, and
3) specific predictions generated in breakout discussion groups at a highly interactive one-day workshop for expert participants.
Method 1: Numerical Ratings
In the first phase, each participant identified Specific Product Groups he/she thought were likely to produce significant innovation in the next 10 years. Participants also assigned numerical ratings describing the likelihood that his/her examples would be successfully developed in that time frame. This approach reflects our view that:
- each participant’s familiarity is greatest with the specific topics that he/she has forecast, and
- individual experts’ “likelihood ratings” are more meaningful for Specific Product Groups than for broader Technology Areas.
This method generated 501 product-specific predictions from the individual participants. By selecting product examples that were independently validated by two or more participants, and by combining duplicates, we obtained 91 Specific Product Groups for further evaluation. We computed overall likelihood ratings for each product group by combining all participants’ scores.
Finally, we grouped all of the 91 Specific Product Groups into 24 broader Technology Areas. We calculated overall likelihood ratings for each Technology Area by combining the ratings of each Specific Product Group in that Technology Area.
Method 2: Individual Interviews
In the second phase, we conducted individual interviews. Each expert was asked, simply, “What new medical device developments do you think are coming within the next decade?” Interviewees were allowed to pursue the question wherever they liked. Interviewers provided no constraints and no suggestions; they merely took notes and recorded each session for later analysis.
Interviewers recorded a total of 306 product- or technology-specific comments, 86% of which explicitly corroborated the numerical ratings (including ratings and examples generated by the other participants).
Method 3: Interactive Workshop
Finally, in the workshop phase, participants received updated summaries of their collective views, as expressed in the numerical ratings and in the individual interviews. In full sessions and focused working groups, they re-examined and reassessed the Trend Themes, Technology Areas, and Product Groups. Seventy-four percent of the working group comments were at least as optimistic as the initial numerical ratings.