FOR_4: Formulate questions

FOR topfor4_2





This step is an elaboration of the activities performed in Step 1 of Stage FORFOR = FORmulate  – defining main objectives, time horizon of the forecast and market and geographical context of the system to be forecasted.



Method Method = FORMAT methodology

The purpose of this step is to elaborate further the objectives of the technology forecasting by answering the questions that were posed in Step 1 of Stage FORFOR = FORmulate . For this purpose, the system to be forecasted (STF) has to be depicted in generic terms (The “What” Of the forecast); the time horizon should be specified (The “When” of the forecast) and the market scope with geographic context (The “Where” of the forecast) should be identified.



  1. Review results of Step 1 and Step 2 of Stage FORFOR = FORmulate  and define a main function of the system to be forecasted (STF).
  2. Identify time horizon of forecast in months or years consistent with the objectives of study (and how the results of the forecast will be applied).
  3. Specify the target geographical area or market explicitly.
  4. Integrate the developed “What”, “When” and “Where” of the forecast into the form of questions to be answered at the end of the technology forecasting study (Questions for Forecast).


➔     The objectives and viewpoints of the forecast should be clear (see previous steps).

➔     Avoid industry jargon as far as possible especially when defining the function of the industrial process

➔     Define the function of STFSTF = System to be forecasted  using a three-step procedure:

a. Describe the function using common words and expressions (e.g. pencil – to write, to draw)

b. Reformulate the defined function according to the pattern: <verb> + <noun> (e.g. <draw> <letters>)

c. Reformulate again the defined function by replacing the <verb> with the pattern: <change> + <features (and values) (of the <noun/object)> (e.g. <change> <colour>;  <change> <…>)

➔     Function of STFSTF = System to be forecasted  is defined based on the outcome of step b) from the above procedure after checking consistency with step c) (see the three step procedure above).

➔     While identifying the time horizon for a forecast, keep in mind the lifetime of the STFSTF = System to be forecasted . Typically, the time horizon specified in the technology forecasting project has to be greater than the lifetime of the STFSTF = System to be forecasted .

➔     STFSTF = System to be forecasted  can evolve differently in different geographies or for diverse markets. Therefore, a particular country(s) and/or market(s) should be specified unambiguously in accordance within the scope of forecast defined in the previous steps.

➔     Clearly formulate one main question for forecast and try to achieve a consensus on it. The question for forecast is usually formulated integrating several questions. The question for forecast is typically composed of 2-4 sub-questions.

➔     The following questionnaire can help you to answer the question “what to know” about the future (to drive a meaningful definition of the boundaries of the STF and support data gathering):

  1. Will you take your future decisions on the basis of the features of a product or its related manufacturing process? Which product? Or which manufacturing process? [STF]
  2. What characteristics of the future STF are more essential to let you make a decision?

a. Costs? If yes, what to pay for?

i.   Space (space for + examples); [m, m^2, m^3]

ii.  Time (time to + examples); [s, m/s; m/s^2,…]

iii. Information/Knowledge (examples); [days to knowledge, Kb]

iv. Material (Material to + function) [kg & specific properties]

v.  Energy (Energy to + function) [kJ, kW, BTU, efficiency,…]

b. Improved functionality? If yes, what kind of functionality? Do you want to know if the system will be more performing (go to i.) or less problematic (go to ii.)? Or is it a matter of aesthetics (go to iii.)?

i.   More Performing

  1. Do you want to know if the main performance indicators of the STF will undergo a radical shift in the future? Which indicators?
  2. Do you want to know if the STF will be more versatile, more robust/repeatable, more controllable? If yes, what characteristics would you like to have more versatile (examples), robust (examples) or controllable (examples) and in which context (examples)?

ii.  Less Problematic

  1. More resistant STF [specify to what substance]
  2. Less polluting STF [specify an appropriate indicator, e.g. eqCO2, %NOx, …]
  3. With reduced undesired side effect [specify which ones]

iii. Improved aesthetics

  1. Is it a matter of variety of styles? [finishing,…]
  2. Is it a matter of colors? [number of colors, nuances,…]
  3. Is it a matter of diversity from standards [standards]
  1. Filter the amount of characteristics you want to forecast by those that are compulsory to support decision-making (3-4) and the complementary ones.
  2. Start organizing the compulsory characteristics in a System Operator.
  3. Check in other screens if and how other characteristics to be measured can help in building inferences about the STF.

Suggested reading

Kucharavy, D. Course materials: Technological forecasting (prediction technology change), Strasbourg, 2008.


Within a case study about Decoration of home appliances surfaces, the main function of STFSTF = System to be forecasted  (What?)was formulated as: <to modify> <colour of> <a surfacesurfaces: plastic, metal, glass, porcelain; flat, 2D curved, 3D curved, perforated, texture>.

Main objectives of Forecast were preliminarily identified as:

  • To envision: What to do to improve the Decoration process? (1st priority)
  • To be aware: What will happen around in the field of Decoration technologies (2nd priority)
  • To get explicit description of future changes of Decoration process for home appliances (3rd priority)


Time horizon for forecast (When?) was identified as: 5-10 years (i.e. 2019-2024), since the last change in decoration machines was introduced about 3-5 years ago.


Market scope and geographic context (Where?) was identified as:

home appliances (refrigerators; ovens, microwave ovens; dishwashers; washing machines, dryers; cooktops ) in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).


Starting from the review of such information collected during the previous steps, the output of the step 4 in Stage (FORFOR = FORmulate ) resulted as follows:

Questions for Forecast (Questions to be answered at the end of study)

1)    Which is the most promising decoration technology for achieving present and future product need (quality, flexibility, cost effectiveness) in the future 5 to 10 years (2019-2024) for home appliances in Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEAEMEA = Europe, Middle East, Africa ) markets?

  • Will decoration technologies be needed?
  • Which will be the expected (estimated) evolution of Main Parameters of ink-jet and laser marking?
  • When will inkjet technology be ready to substitute silk screening and pad printing for domestic appliances?
  • When will laser marking be able to produce coloured marks on plastic?



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