Futurology at Evonik

When the rules change

The Creavis Corporate Foresight team is looking far into the future, even without a crystal ball. The work of the futurologists is based on a wealth of scientific knowledge: They recognize trends that can fundamentally change economic and social rules as we know them.

“We don’t really like your music and nobody’s interested in the guitar anyway.” With this brief explanation, Decca Music rejected the Beatles in 1962 − a momentous decision for the music label. The Kodak company made an even more disastrous decision when it suspended further development of digital photography even though it already held key patents for this technology. The result: Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and withdrew from this market completely after more than 120 years.

To ensure that Evonik is better prepared for future changes in technologies and markets, the current focus topic of Corporate Foresight is “GameChanger.” With this term, the Foresight team refers to innovation fields that could bring about fundamental changes to existing markets, businesses or entire industries over the next ten to 20 years.

The team has been looking at driverless cars, for example, and their implications for Evonik. The technology could lead to a situation where up to 80 percent less cars are needed. As a consequence, this would drastically reduce the need for brake hoses, automotive paints and headlight covers. This would have a major impact on Evonik’s business. New technologies also mean new requirements – and new demands from Evonik’s customers.

Another long-term game changer on the radar of the Corporate Foresight team is private space travel: Whereas up to now, leaving the earth’s orbit has been a matter for governments, private enterprises are now setting out to conquer space. For this reason, the Foresight Team analyzed potential new markets, such as space tourism, asteroid mining, and the need for new materials for the required spaceships.

On the basis of extensive criteria, Corporate Foresight has identified a total of 24 game changers and developed action areas through which Evonik can prepare itself for future developments. This enables the company to recognize negative market influences at an early stage, to protect itself from these influences, and to recognize and take advantage of opportunities in new growth markets.