According to Gartner, “Enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders, including CTOs, are challenged to predict how trends and disruptions might affect their organization’s business model in the future. Organizations need to be deliberate about scouting for trends beyond just emerging technology trends.”
Decision-makers and innovation architects know that a firm understanding of the changing business landscape is the foundation to building resilient, future-fit organizations. Trendspotting is a strategic imperative to keep organizations ahead of the curve. At ITONICS, we refer to this as the Where to Play stage of the innovation journey. The challenge, however, lies in finding a way to effectively process and act upon the vast amounts of information feeding into the business environment today. The question then arises: how do teams identify relevant trends and technologies that drive competitive advantage?
This is the first blog in a two-part series where we shall be analyzing how to undertake trendspotting. Incorporating insights from Gartner as well as the ITONICS methodology, we shall discuss what capabilities are required for innovation practitioners such as enterprise architects and CTOs to undertake actionable, efficient trendspotting activities.
1. Understand What Role Trendspotting Plays in the Innovation Journey
Gartner defines trendspotting as “the acquisition and evaluation of trends that may impact the organization”. The process requires the leaders of trendspotting activities - whether CTOs, enterprise architects, technology innovation managers or dedicated innovation managers - to scan, scout and monitor trends and technologies continuously.
At ITONICS, our trendspotting process is guided by first understanding the key differences between solution drivers and demand drivers. As an indication of market pull, demand drivers are directional forces that help innovators understand the market and consumer shifts. Trends are demand drivers. In turn, this understanding of demand drivers and how the trends interact, complement, or contradict one another builds the innovation intelligence needed to discover opportunities and direct innovation objectives.
Demand drivers sit in contrast to solution drivers, which aim to provide disruptive, game-changing solutions, delivering a market push. Technologies are prime examples of solution drivers.
Demand And Solution Drivers
2. Define the Scope
The identified leader needs to be apprised of the different technologies being utilized within the organization and how these can be improved. CTOs and enterprise architects are often best placed to lead trendspotting activities because they have the requisite organizational birds-eye view and a deep understanding of technology adoption methods within the company.
Gartner says, “Use continuous foresight as an overarching model in which trendspotting will exist. Identify a leader to define the trendspotting process. Ensure this aligns to your organization’s unique technology adoption persona and innovation strategy. Adopt TAPESTRY analysis to identify relevant accelerators and inhibitors including technological, political, economical, social/cultural, trust/ethics, regulatory/legal, and environmental factor trends.”
Like the STEEP or PESTEL models, TAPESTRY provides teams with a way to categorize information and observe connections between the seven areas, thereby developing nuanced evaluations of trends and how they might impact their business model and internal capabilities.
Synthesizing the trends is a critical part of trendspotting activities. As discussed later, the more diverse the team, the more texture they can provide in their analysis of the different trends. Ultimately, the trendspotting leader is responsible for collating insights and organizing them coherently and efficiently. This usually requires a digital platform that acts as a single point of truth for all trendspotting and innovation management activities.
3. Establish the Team
Effective trendspotting activities leverage the team's different skills, incorporating an even spread of knowledge of the various TAPESTRY focus areas.
With the leader, mindset (continuous foresight), and framework (TAPESTRY) defined it is time to start building the team. The trendspotting team should be composed of both internal resources (across the organization), as well as leverage partners, ecosystems, and academic institutions. All of these resources will help develop a more diverse team and stream of trends to consider and evaluate.
At ITONICS, we provide rating criteria for technologies such that organizations are on the same page with regard to the strategic fit of each technology. Our analyst team uses advanced queries and the ITONICS Insights tool to collect relevant information from quantifiable historical and present data. This is supported by qualitative research to statistically derive the ratings.
The rating criteria for emerging technologies are as follows:
- Potential Impact
- Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
The rating criteria for trends are as follows:
- Potential Impact
- Time to Market Impact
- Adoption Stage
Consider who in the organization would be best suited to rate which criteria. Another way to consider rating roles is to identify who would be best suited to rate at which stage of the sensemaking process.
4. Develop the Team
Skills and training are vital to the trendspotting process. Two questions that leaders should ask themselves are:
- What qualities does the team need to have before the process starts?
- What competencies need to be learned along the way?
Table 2 below shows the different skills and characteristics required for effective trendspotting.
Consider having discussions with your team prior to kick off on which skills they may want to upskill on throughout the trendspotting process.
5. The Next Steps: Where to Play, How to Win, What to Execute
After completing the trendspotting process, leaders need to think critically about how they will communicate their findings to the broader organization and develop collective strategies on how best to implement insights.At ITONICS, we refer to this as the How to Win stage of the innovation process. As stated earlier, it requires a single digital platform to ensure that all ideas are captured and encourage collaboration between departments within an organization. The ITONICS Cloud platform provides teams with a digital platform to go from trendspotting to developing roadmaps for product creation and delivery.