I've been thinking about a post on business trends for a while.
I can comfortably go back to things I have written and said 4-5 years ago and show you how they're developing and future direction. Implications really depend on who you are and what you're doing.
There are several conversations on trends going on at the moment:
- general trends -- a good resource by vertical is Trend Hunter
- consumer trends -- you're probably familiar with Trend Watching
- new trends -- ideas are organized by category at Springwise
- business trends -- compiled by places like the Institute for Global Futures
- forecast trends -- stories and issues associated with them by the Institute for the Future
And many more, including industry-specific trend reports compiled by large organizations like IBM, Deloitte's Center for the Edge, Microsoft, and analyst reports from firms like Forrester, Gartner, etc.
Trends are conceptual by nature -- tendencies, things that may show up in one form or another at some point. My way of working with trends is not to look at what will be in fashion next year, although I do have a keen eye for that, too, because I am looking.
I look more to long term developments, ideas that take a while to show up on the mainstream radar. Incidentally, the other side of the trend coin is case studies. Which are trends seen in the rear view mirror. It is much easier to see how an idea played out after it did, than while it's developing.
The two fundamental components of how I look at trends are:
- query set - knowing what you have and how to pull data
- path to meaningful trade - doing more of what works, less of what doesn't
Because I work with two kinds of organizations, large corporations that need help getting back to basics, and startups that want to get set up to scale, I'm not interested in muddling in the middle -- what everyone is doing.
The lens I use to look at trends is relevance. I leave the fire hose coming in fully open, and use relevance (and experience, of course) as the filter to sort out leading indicators and outliers specific to clients and projects.
If you're looking for generic report, there are plenty around. What moves the needle in your own business, that's a different kind of conversation. At the price of a latter, monthly subscribers to my premium newsletter get the inside scoop on some of the things I'm working on now.
When they say, the capacity of an organization to understand the key trends that will shape the future of technology, customers, society and the marketplace will determine the survival of the enterprise, what they really mean is integrate that thinking in how the business trade on promises.
[image by Ray Villafane]