James Woudhuysen

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Innovation Forecaster

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James’ expertise spans IT, energy, manufacturing, leisure and retailing. He has a proven track record of seeing trends before his peers and delivering counter-intuitive but highly pragmatic proposals on how business should react. The former head of worldwide market intelligence at Philips consumer electronics questions our assumptions on everything from robots to plastics, and from obsessions with food to the snags surrounding cashless society.


James Woudhuysen is visiting Professor of Forecasting and Innovation at London South Bank University. His ability to spot trends before many of his peers, and his habit of delivering often surprising conclusions and practical recommendations based on these trends, marks him out as one of the world’s most iconoclastic forecasters.

From the early days of IT when, in 1981, James stated that the main issue it had to tackle was that of the user interface, he has consistently been prescient about the future. Ahead of others, he has been realistic about electric and autonomous cars, upheld the need for R&D and new industries, and dismissed fads about the future of work. With major books published on construction and energy, the only areas he avoids in his forecasts are the weather, the stock market, and the racing results.

Starting his career in journalism, James then joined the international design firm Fitch as its head of research. Later he founded consultancy on IT and on cities at the Henley Centre for Forecasting, WPP, before going on to a senior management role at Philips, the Netherlands. Today, he writes and speaks on the world economy and trade, on consumers, and – in the first place – the prospects for international business.

In his speeches, James shows how the right understanding of future trends can inform decisions on strategy, marketing and design. With specialist knowledge of China and Asia, he is an expert in changing consumer behaviour, the dynamics of new product development and the wider context of state regulation.

With humour and insight, James frequently challenges politically correct ideas, contrasting the creative potential we all have with the deadening effect of conventional wisdom. In every field, he offers a witty but deadly serious and very practical critique of the myths that bewitch us all.

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JLA Speakers Breakfast: James Woudhuysen