Newsletter 2020

Newsletter - Foresight and Strategy 2020

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January 2020

Welcome to 2020 – we hope you are ready for it!  Thinking about the “known unkowns” we will at least have to deal with:

  • UK trade deals with EU and maybe US – will they be sorted or not?
  • Labour’s new leader: what approach will they take? What difference will that make?
  • What happens next in the Middle East tinderbox?
  • US election – who will be the Democrat challenger and how radical will be their policies? Will Trump win his second term?
  • Hong Kong – will China back down or send in troops?
  • Climate emergencies and UK hosting COP26 – will progress be made at last?

David Lye is stepping down as SAMI’s People Director, though he will continue to be involved in various projects – we would like to convey our many thanks for all his support over the years.

Bill Aiken will take his place, and also lead SAMI’s approaches to the Government sector and SAMI’s training offering.

Bill specialises in strategy development, organisational transformation and capability development.  He has worked with a wide range of clients from engineering firms and global consultancies to the European Commission, Government Departments including the Home Office, the Ministry of Defence, the NHS and FCO, and security agencies and Police Forces. 

He has previously acted as People and Change Director in a number of consulting firms.

Government enquiries into companies such as Carillion and Thomas Cook showed that the firms complied with statutory reporting and had been audited by reputable accountants, yet both failed spectacularly in circumstances that in retrospect could shout out poor governance. Is this because of a lack of skill or a lack of will? SAMI Associate Garry Honey explores this question in a recent blogpost on the ICSA website.

The Conservative manifesto promised a better deal for the many families in the private rented sector. In a blogpost for the Income Protection Task Force, SAMI Principal Richard Walsh outlines its main provisions and effects on Income Protection, and describes how the “Building Resilient Households Group” will be engaging with Government.

After Shock: In 1970, futurists Alvin and Heidi Toffler’s sensational bestseller, Future Shock described a world where “shattering stress and disorientation” would inevitably be brought about by “too much change in too short a period of time.”  Marking the 50-year anniversary of the publication of Future Shock, After Shock brings together the world’s foremost futurists and thought leaders in a compendium that sparks imagination and inspires solutions to the many challenges we face.

Contributors include more than 100 of the world’s foremost futurists, including David Brin, Ray Kurzweil, Lord Martin Rees, – and the unbeatable combination of SAMI Fellow Emeritus Gill Ringland and SAMI Associate Patricia Lustig.

After Shock is published on 4th February 2020. Get it in bookshops or on Amazon

Professor Paul Moxey and SAMI Principal Huw Williams will be presenting to Directors from the Finance sector at a special half-day meeting of The Transparency Forum on 19th March. Topic covered will include cognitive bias and risk management, key drivers of change and approaches to foresight. Contact for more information.

The CRSA Forum meeting on cybersecurity on 17th January 2020 sold out. Notes of the meeting will appear on the Institute of Risk Management’s website in due course. Contact for more information.

Executive Education
Our next Futures Thinking course is planned for 23rd/24th March 2020. To register an interest, please contact

We also offer several courses aimed at Boards and Senior Management designed to help them manage risk and seize opportunities – to “survive and thrive”.

Alternatively, we can arrange bespoke in-house courses for teams wanting to get started in horizon scanning and scenario planning.

Futures Issues
Brainwave interfaces are developing fast. At this year’s CES, BrainCo demonstrated a headband which reads brainwaves and uses them to control Scalextric type cars. The implications are huge, once you connect the system to the internet – in effect it’s telephathy.

Lignin, a natural polymer intertwined around the cellulose fibres, that gives wood its brownish hue, could be used to generate electricity from heat energy sources just 5 °C warmer than their surroundings.  It may be possible to create shirts made of treated cotton, which is nearly pure cellulose, that could harvest body heat, storing it in a battery to recharge phones, or charging them wirelessly in pockets.

Rolls-Royce unveils all-electric plane.  The plane is part of a Rolls-Royce initiative called ACCEL – short for “Accelerating the Electrification of Flight – and has a target speed of 300+ MPH (480+ KMH) and is expected to trial in late Spring 2020.

A pilot project injecting zero-carbon hydrogen into an existing gas network is now fully operational. Called HyDeploy, the pilot involves injecting hydrogen into Keele University’s existing natural gas network, which supplies 30 faculty buildings and 100 domestic properties. Hydrogen will account for up to 20% of the gas mix in the network. If it’s successful and were to be scaled up across England, researchers at Keele estimate it could mitigate the emission of six million tonnes of CO2e emissions annually.

The FDA has approved an ingestible event marker from the digital health company etectRx. This is the first device of its kind to transmit digital messages from within the body to an external receiver without need for direct skin contact. The device emits a very low power digital message from within the patient after it is ingested and activated by the patient’s stomach fluid. This is then verified by a reader on a lanyard and forwarded to a secure smartphone app.

Global shipments of wearables jumped 94.6 percent year-on-year in the third quarter to 84.5 million, following growth of 85 percent in the second quarter. Demand was driven by new products in the hearables market which accounted for almost half of products sold in Q3, followed by wristbands and smartwatches. The rise of smart assistants in the home and on the phone also helped increase demand for wearables. The market is well on its way to becoming a mass market device category, rather than one mainly focused on health and fitness. 

Birth rates in China are falling dramatically, from 17.23 million in 2017 to 15.23 million in 2018 – a fall of 11.6% in just one year. We can now confidently project an ageing Chinese population in just a few years.  What is the impact on geo-politics?

Our Blogs 
In our recent blogs we reviewed our Brexit scenarios in the light of the December General Election, looked back over what happened during 2019 and have revisited the question about whether the coming year will develop a ‘new normal’ of civil unrest and revolution – a follow  up to our previous blog on this topic. We have also continued our series on the climate crisis by looking at some of the social and political trends.