Three Ways to Analyze the Future of an Industry: Scanning the Horizon of Auto Technology
By Chris on March 25, 2011
We’ve looked issues related to the auto industry in the past (see our post and video on BYD Auto), and here we’ll use the space again as a showcase of how future related data is plentiful and openly available on the Web if you could harness it in a meaningful way (and that’s what we’re here for!).
Coming at this from a pretty high level, we’ll detail event data from three different angles that transcend industries fairly well: the companies and products involved; the potentially game-changing technologies; and regulations.
Companies and Products
We’ll start to understand the future by collecting the major players. Using the watchlist functionality in Recorded Future Premium, I set up a scope of the top 50 vehicle manufacturing groups drawn from Wikipedia (have your jabs at its validity, but I think it gets close to the goal here), and ran some queries on the whole group.
The timeline below shows product related event references for the “top 50” companies from 2012 through 2014 (click through to see the live data and annotations):
Admittedly, it’s a bit scattered in focus, but remember that the set is composed of fifty companies here. Also, our web application limits the results to the top 500 identified events for any query, so if you want to really full picture, you’d need to leverage our news analytics API.
From the same result set, we can use the treemap view to identify all of the products – and then actually create a watchlist inclusive of all these products – actually referenced in the events depicted above.
Shifting from the future of companies and particular products, anyone interested in the future of an industry can probably identify the names of a few technologies with the potential to dramatically change the face of things. Since we’re looking at the automotive industry, let’s go for fuel cell technology.
Here’s a timeline established by using the same watchlist of 50 automakers in a query asking for co-occurring mentions of a company and the term “fuel cell.”
Seeing the considerable peak of momentum in 2015 indicating an unusually high level of discussion around that point in time, I can filter my events to those with some reference to that year. See the results below (scroll through the “All Results” for the full list of events):
Pretty clear that a variety of industry players have pegged 2015 as the year for introduction of fuel cell vehicles.
Finally, when we consider the future of an industry, all is not left up to the scientists and manufacturers. Government and international organizations are bound to impact (or tangle, depending on your point of view) a market with regulations.
So, for the automotive industry, we’ll look at quotations related to fuel efficiency referencing any time period during or after the year 2014. Using the treemap visualization, we can identify statements from individuals including President Barack Obama, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board Mary Nichols, the president of Hyundai Motors America John Krafcik, and many others, all with reference to regulations.
Now, consider what we’ve just accomplished. Without any manual aggregation, we’ve quickly sketched out the known future of the automotive industry (or at least portions of it).
This analysis, of course, has an extremely large scope, and we could filter in some unique ways, say, only Chinese automakers or only statements on fuel efficiency from government officials. Other subjects would have their own unique event subject matter – clinical trials for pharma, commodity costs for energy, elections for intelligence, and so on – but discussion of the future is out there for almost everything!