Applied Futures Research

Applied Futures Research and Technology Assessment

Key Benefits


We concentrate on achieving four specific outcomes for JALA's clients:


JALA has extensive experience in futures research, with emphasis on developing robust strategies for dealing with technological and institutional change. Beginning in the 1960's and 1970's, when Jack Nilles was involved in long range forecasting for the Department of Defense and NASA, we have been involved in forecasting the future of new energy technologies, office automation and personal computers. Nilles' 1978 assessment of the potential impact of personal computers is still relevant today. JALA has also contributed to several efforts of the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment.
We also publish forecasts of telework-related technology growth and acceptance. From time to time, JALA collaborates with Strategic Futures International, Inc. on projects requiring the use of advanced techniques of futures research. As part of that effort, we are co-developing some new forecasting tools for strategic planners.

Our emphasis is on applied futures research. That is, we not only examine future possibilities, but we explore step-by-step ways of arriving at desired futures—with the first step beginning today—or tomorrow morning at the latest...

As an example, we continually monitor developments related to teleworking and publish forecasts of future developments. In 1970, there were possibly a couple of thousand telecommuters in the US. By 1980, there were about 100 thousand telecommuters in the US, according to Nilles' forecasts (no one was actually asking such survey questions at the time). In 1990 the number had risen to about 2.4 million, according to my forecasts, and about 3.4 million, according to Tom Miller's (FIND/SVP) surveys of US households. Miller's number for 1994 was 9.1 million, our forecast was for 7.8 million. Our forecast for 1996 was 12.7 million with the number almost doubling, to 24.7 million in the year 2000 (21.4 million at the end of 1999). For that to happen required an average annual growth rate of the number of telecommuters of just over 18%. The year 2000 number meant that about 18% of the US workforce would be engaged in some form of telecommuting at that time.

However, our reality-check national survey of regularly employed US teleworkers in July and early August 2000 led to more conservative results: 16.5 million people regularly teleworking at least one day per month.  Click here to see our current forecast for the US. (Note that reality as surveyed is lumpier than forecasts based on mathematical models.) Teleworkers generally come from the information or knowledge segment of the workforce; that is shown in our overall workforce forecast for the US.

Our latest effort is a set of 30-year, global forecasts in a number of telework-related areas. Most of the output of that project is currently available only to project sponsors but you can see our results for ten of the highest long-term likelihood countries via the European Commission-sponsored ECaTT (Electronic Commerce and Telework Trends) web site. You can also review our world forecast by major regions.


Although we have not written any entire books on futures research, there is an appendix covering the main ideas of futures research in Jack Nilles' Managing Telework. Another book we recommend for those generally interested in futures topics is Which World? by Allen Hammond of the World Resources Institute. You can order either Managing Telework or Which World? at Finally, you can get a quick overview of futures research by looking at our brief introduction to the future.

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Last modified: Wednesday January 4, 2012.

JALA International
Los Angeles, CA 90049