Foundation Report: From Foresight to Action

ASAE Foundation's future-focused research forecasts change drivers.

By now, most association professionals have become accustomed to change. But what will we be doing a decade from now? How can we predict the changes that will affect how we work in the future?

To help association professionals prepare for what lies ahead, the ASAE Foundation is returning to future-focused research with the ASAE ForesightWorks program. Several elements set this program apart from ASAE’s previous environmental scanning research. ASAE ForesightWorks promises to be continuous: Updated trend analyses and related tools will be released regularly, and opportunities for members to engage with the research will be ongoing. The program aims to empower association leaders by giving them actionable tools and resources to practice scanning on their own.

Key resources from the program are analyses of 41 drivers of change—the shifts or trends that spell change ahead for association professionals and the industries they serve. Each analysis, presented in a concise action brief, provides a forecast for the change—including probable timeline, key uncertainties, notable data points, and related trends—and discusses strategic insights and action steps for leaders.

The first three action briefs, available now, examine three very different challenges facing associations:

1. Aging. The rising number of elderly people will reshape political, financial, and social priorities, playing out for associations in areas such as workforce management and benefits.

2. Anticipatory intelligence. Big data, data analytics, and artificial intelligence are enabling the use of predictive analytics to anticipate needs, opportunities, and threats in an organization’s environment.

3. Virtualized meetings. Ubiquitous broadband, accessible virtual reality, and robotics are accelerating the capabilities of so-called telepresence technologies, which could enable remote collaboration and participation at meetings and events far beyond what we know today.

Action briefs on the 38 remaining drivers of change will be released by early 2018. For more information, visit

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Jenny Nelson

By Jenny Nelson

Jenny Nelson is ASAE’s manager of research content and knowledge resources. MORE

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