The Role of Big Data in Futures Research

The Role of Big Data in Futures Research

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

As research evolves and the greater digital age becomes more and more defined by its vastness and capabilities, so too does the way in which research is conducted. No longer are questionnaires, question prompts, and surveys considered to be the only methods scientists have to delve into the future of their chosen discipline, Gathered and collated data has become commonplace, and the big data analytics and insights that come along with this have allowed the research community to unravel the complexities associated with future forecasting. Here, we explore the role of big data in futures research.

In order for scientists to determine what the future may hold in any given field, they rely heavily on the available information that has been gathered from various sources and third-party data centers. This type of data, commonly referred to as “Big Data”, provides researchers with analytical capabilities, the ability to identify trends, and the capacity to draw accurate conclusions regarding future trends.

Big data can be found in virtually all fields, from healthcare to marketing and finance. With advancements in technology, researchers can gather, store, and analyze large amounts of data much more quickly than ever before. Additionally, the advancements in artificial intelligence have allowed researchers to embed algorithms into their analysis to develop more accurate trend predictions for the future.

Case Study 1 – Atlantic Council’s Global Futures Exchange

A great example of this is the work being done by the Atlantic Council’s Global Futures Exchange. This particular project has seen several big data initiatives implemented, such as machine learning algorithms and natural language processing to help it accurately predict future trends in global affairs. By analyzing massive amounts of data related to climate change, geopolitics, terrorism, and more, researchers can better prepare themselves for what the future may hold in a given field.

Case Study 2 – Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE)

Another great example of the role of big data in futures research is the work done by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE). This organization has been able to leverage big data to create a predictive model that helps inform their decision making and future forecasts. PIRE uses these models to generate forecasts related to various factors such as the global economy, risk management, and energy efficiency. Using predictive analytics, they were able to identify potential areas of risk before they became issues and equipped themselves with the necessary resources to combat them before they become serious.


It’s clear to see that big data and the insights it provides are becoming increasingly important to futures research. This type of data provides researchers with much more accurate and timely results, enabling them to increase the efficiency of their research. With big data analytics, scientists are now presented with the opportunity to use predictive analytics to identify potential trends and outcomes before they become a reality. By leveraging the power of big data, researchers are more prepared to better understand the future and what it holds in their respective fields.

Bottom line: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Pixabay

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