How to identify relevant trends for business

Abraham Lincoln said that “the best way to predict the future is to create it” and this is our mantra from website.

We are facing a CHANGE that is getting faster in many areas. Think about digitization – it brings risks and opportunities – as any change. A change can equal risk for a company. Especially in the situation when market shifts and there is no longer a need for its products. Don’t get me wrong. I know that many see me as this positively freaked girl. But you must be realistic. There is a risk involved in everything we do. Yes, change brings opportunities too. Many possibilities for new innovations start witch a change.

Today I want to take on the topic: how to identify relevant trends.

There are many types of trends, some are better for your company than the others. If your company will play a proactive role, you will be able to influence the market and shape the future. Trends will help you to bring products to the market that meet the latest demands and are more flexible in terms of destructive changes.

All this trend thing is the responsibility of trend research and innovation management. Today, it is necessary to see the potential for the future and solutions need to be developed with a future in mind. The future is being shaped instead of the future doing the shaping. But this type of management requires good, reasonable information on trends, future developments and their effects on the market.

Since trends involve several aspects, a high degree of attention is paid to them. Many trends can’t be seen easily in one’s own industry but are still relevant due to chain and interaction effects. Trends can have very different effects on different industries. You must diversify your perspective to manage the trends properly.

Simplified management of trends process looks like this:

  • Identification of trends – what trends are out there or will be in the future? And which of these are relevant to your business?
  • Analysis of the effects and possible projections and scenarios – in which directions can a trend develop? What impact can have this in general?
  • Analysis of the implications for your industry or company – what does the trend mean for your company?

You can’t travel to the future to know how it will look like. You can’t read it in any book. You can only guess the future (but be aware of involving your personal feelings/beliefs/assumptions in the projections). A solid foundation of expertise and FACTS is important. The best source for the predictions and characteristics of trends is, therefore, to bring together as many expert opinions as possible.

And in order to make the best from trends a systematic approach, process and methodology are required.

Below a few questions that help you in trend research:

  • What impact do megatrends have on your company, business and industry?
  • What impact do megatrends have on your environment (ex. customers, legislators)?
  • What major changes will be there?
  • What does this mean for your company, business, industry?
  • What are the trends in your industry?

The knowledge of trends and possible future developments flows into strategic innovation management. But is not necessary for innovation itself. The future information is also relevant for the development of the corporate strategy and for business decisions. I would suggest to spread this information very widely throughout the company departments and to initiate a discussion. By doing this your employees will deal with the trends, what will initiate creative thinking that later delivers ideas suitable for the future.

Dealing with trends and the future is one of the most important tasks. It provides the basis for the development of the strategy, sales, marketing and products oriented on the future. If you don’t have solid information your company can be surprised by disruptions and play ongoing catch up game. Another disaster, seen quite often, is a wrong basic orientation, for example focusing on a wrong customer need or making predictions based on feelings, not facts.

I hope this article raised your awareness and shows you that trend research is an important success factor in management.

How your company is dealing with trends today?


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