The red24 Threat Forecast 2014 will be released on 9 December 2013. This yearly global forecast is created by our team of analysts, each focusing on their respective region of expertise. Spearheading the project is MENA Chief and red24 veteran analyst, Andre Colling. The following interview attempts to get a glimpse into the analytical process that goes into forecasting the future of global security.
BL – Hi Andre, can you please tell us why red24 is creating the threat forecast and what your role in the process is?
AC – The Threat Forecast is a red24 Analyst Department project. It is initiated annually to promote our department’s analytical ability and provide our clients with a document that can serve as the basis for their planning in the year ahead. My role is twofold. I have managed this year’s forecast project, from conceptualisation to the final document, and am involved in writing, specifically for the Middle East and North Africa section, my particular area of expertise.
BL – It has been said that forecasting future events is often like searching for a black cat, which may not even exist, in an unlit room. What approach do you and your team take in determining if the elusive black cat exists and how do you find it in the dark room of uncertainty that is the future?
AC – That is a very good question! Most companies and analysts are quite confident in their ability to predict risks; however, this view and position is slightly unfocused and is usually openly presented to satisfy and interest current or potential clients. Black Swan events (to add another animal to the mix) such as the Arab Spring show that we cannot always predict what will happen in the future. Our role, rather, is to identify trends and to make the best guess as to how we see events and issues developing. At red24 our assessments are based on extensive research and constant critique of our base assumptions and the information that is presented to us via media and academia. The Threat Forecast does not pretend to know exactly what will happen; rather, it is designed to give readers a likely outcome of risks in key areas in the year ahead. red24 is all about partnership, not one-off risk assessments, and our assessments are ever changing. This is something our clients appreciate, I think.
BL – How do you decide which stories will be included in the forecast?
AC – The Chief Analysts of each region are asked to provide a list of countries and issues they feel are the most significant and likely to affect the security and political environment in 2014. Following a discussion between senior analysts a list is produced and the writing process begins. Generally, stories that are included dominate the news or are expected to do so in the year ahead, and concern states that are dominant and drivers of stability or instability. In some cases we include stories that we think our clients will be most interested in. This year we have quite a few stories which the general media have largely ignored but which we feel are of interest to our clients and affect the security environments of the respective states in a significant manner.
BL – What will the difference be between the 2014 forecast and the 2013 forecast, besides content?
AC – This year we have a new threat forecast ‘microsite’. The information on the PDF will be replicated on this site, which is much easier to navigate and user friendly.
BL – How confident are you in the accuracy of the 2014 forecast?
AC – Now you’ve put me on the spot. I am very confident that the information we have included is based on diligent research, reflects the security risks and is relevant. I will now remain firmly on the fence.
BL – While leading the 2014 forecast, have you gotten any new ideas that you wish to include in next year’s 2015 forecast?
AC – Expect some changes to the way our maps, graphs and images are presented… We may include more issues and stories in the next version.
BL – Do you have any general, or forecast related advice for budding young analysts, political scientists and global security enthusiasts?
AC – Humility and diligent and thorough research are key to succeed in this industry. Assumptions are the rot that can undermine any assessment or piece of analysis. Always reconsider your stated position(s) and assumption(s) either internally or with colleagues. To senior analysts, never underestimate the power and value of new ideas from junior analysts.
Pre-register for the Threat Forecast 2014 and be one of the first to receive it on 9 December – https://www.red24.com/nonmembers/threat-forecast.php
- 2014 Threat Forecast – Coming 9 December – Video (red24opinion.wordpress.com)