All types of trends can impact our businesses. But not all of them are industry-related. Trends come at us from all angles — global, social, technology, geographic, economic, natural resources, material advancements and automation, among others.
It is a lot to consider. But if we do just that on an annual basis, we will prepare our companies for what’s ahead. And if we act on the potential opportunities and threats we uncover during the process, we can position our companies to grow market share, emerge as a leading force and remain relevant.
Prepare to do a deep dive
Set aside some time or assign the task to an internal or external resource that has the ability to interpret the information from a strategic mindset. This is challenging because these individuals are probably part of your C-suite and rarely find the time for this type of lengthy research.
You need the right eyes on the job or important and meaningful information may get missed. You need the right interpreter.
Getting to the source
It could take weeks of research. The Internet is a great place to start. Many industry associations also report on industry trends and have an affiliated research arm.
Some business schools specialize in areas of research, industry analysts report on trends and some vertical consulting groups prepare an annual report to the industry.
Public libraries have business researchers, and some chambers of commerce have robust research departments.
Go beyond your industry
Businesses tend to only focus on trends in their industry. While important, it is rarely a complete picture from which to develop a market-leading strategy.
What are the trends in the primary market segments you serve? Are those markets growing or shrinking? What about social trends like mobility, Web-based solutions and so on? Or trends related to future generations of buyers? Then, there is automation and pending or emerging government regulations. The list goes on.
Understanding all trends that may impact your business and finding and analyzing the data is what gives you keen insight for developing market-leading strategies.
Look for opportunities and threats
Understanding your company’s strengths and weaknesses is a good platform from which to view opportunities and threats. Where your company has a position of strength and your competitors do not is often where some of the best strategies develop.
Look through a lens that gives you a clear focus on what you can execute with excellence and speed — to catch competitors off-guard and be first-to-market. From that same lens, view threats that will impede the way you do business today. These become important for maintaining relevance, market share and keeping customer loyalty.
Take the lead
We live in a world of global and technological advancement. It is hard to say what the 21st century may become known for, but what we do know is that we are doing business in an ever-changing world that is challenging us to keep pace. Let your business be the one to lead the pack by researching and analyzing trends.