To continuously think of new business ideas and stay competitive in an existing business, it is imperative to stay on top of trends in the industries that are most relevant to you, along with the newest and upcoming technologies and software. When you capitalize early on emerging trends, you put yourself at the front of the line to receive the monetary benefits from the burgeoning market that a new trend could bring. In other words, you position yourself to reap the benefits of a market before or as it’s in the growth stage of its S-Curve.
It’s ideal to find trends in their beginning stages before they reach the mainstream news and the general public. As soon as the mainstream public starts calling something a trend, it may be too late.
Examples of changing circumstances in an industry to look out for:
- Technological advances that may open new possibilities
- New customer demographics entering the industry
- Customers demanding higher product performance
- Economic challenges causing customers to demand lower prices
PESTLE Analysis is a simple and widely used tool that helps you analyze the following trends in your business’s external environment:
This framework helps you understand the “big picture” forces of change that are most pertinent to your business. Additionally, it helps you take advantage of the opportunities that these forces of change present.
Examples of Emerging Technologies
These are examples of emerging technologies that you could put to creative uses in various industries and use to augment your existing business:
- Virtual Reality – a computer technology that replicates an environment, real or imagined, and simulates a user’s physical presence and environment to allow for user interaction with this environment
- Augmented Reality – a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data
- Machine Learning – a field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed
- Renewable Energy – energy that is collected from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat
- Computer Vision – an interdisciplinary field that deals with how computers can be made to gain high-level understanding from digital images or videos
- 3D Printing – processes used to synthesize a three-dimensional object in which successive layers of material are formed under computer control to create the object
- Genetic Engineering – a set of technologies used to change the genetic makeup of cells, including the transfer of genes within and across species boundaries to produce improved or novel organisms
- Biotechnology – the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make products, or any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use
- Cloud Computing – a type of Internet-based computing that provides shared computer processing resources and data to computers and other devices on demand
- Internet of Things – the network of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data
The technologies on Gartner Inc.’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2016 reveal three distinct technology trends that are poised to be of the highest priority for organizations facing rapidly accelerating digital business innovation–transparently immersive experiences, the perceptual smart machine age, and the platform revolution. These overarching technology trends profoundly create new experiences with unrivaled intelligence and offer platforms that allow organizations to connect with new business ecosystems.
Resources for Identifying and Tracking Trends
The following resources can be used to track emerging trends in technology and other industries that interest you:
- Tech news and aggregators
- Major business, economic and technology publications
- Quora – One of the best ways to keep up with tech trends by following topics and people you find interesting. Popular topics on Quora include:
- Profiles of specific industries – The upcoming websites provide emerging trends, insights and regulatory changes in specific industries you would want to research: