A well-known saying from the world of investments and stock-trading is to “let the trend be your friend”. In essence, it captures the fact that an established trend in the market is likely to continue, compared to your – the individual investors’ – ability to pinpoint the point in time where the trend reverses, and capitalize on the change in direction. There are some similarities between this captured wisdom, and how decision makers and strategists in the IT-field may benefit from keeping an eye on what’s “hot or not” in the eyes of their customers as well as the competition.
Gartner, Forrester, and Radar (with a specific focus on the Nordic market) are among the top-ranked analysts and trend-spotters with experts monitoring and identifying the main trends, as well as niche areas in different technologies and software platforms. The most recent mega-trends which you most likely will have been made aware of are – “of course” – “big data”, “mobile everything” and “Internet of Things”, which are part of making up the “nexus of forces”, driving a major part of the IT investments in different industries forward.
The hype-cycle curve
Over time, a pattern has been identified through which technology trends and ideas evolve – impacting the market in different ways. Gartner, as one of the leading industry analysts, have branded this illustration and the stages through which a concept moves in relation to the mindset of the market as the “hype-cycle”.
The main stages are ..
- Technology Trigger
- Peak of Inflated Expectations
- Trough of Disillusionment
- Slope of Enlightenment
- Plateau of Productivity
.. and I’m sure that most of us can relate to these stages to different ideas and events on a personal level as well – regardless of relating to business or not.
There is of course a certain risk of confirmation bias involved in dealing with trends – in part that analysts and trend-setters take part in shaping demand as well as the supplier environment, but also considering the fact that mainly successful examples and ‘evidence’ from past performance are the ones remaining to as examples – failed attempts and projects rarely remain to tell the tale. In fairness, however, analyst companies are in general quite open and honest with regard to the fluidity of trends as well as previous predictions failing to come true. In general, the actual innovation and application in a business context may be valid – but the predicted timing can differ quite a bit vs reality for some concepts (e.g. e-learning and associated predictions during the late 90:s).
Only dead fish follow the stream
- “Won’t my business just be exactly like the competition if I keep chasing the next trend?”
The potential benefit for your specific business may not be at the very frontline of each trend – but rather in the general direction as established by the industry, in combination with what skilled experts and technologists can provide bespoke applications for in relation to your customers. A unique value-adding offering and solution can never come ‘for free’ based on the trend itself – the key lies in drawing maximum benefit from the general direction and wisdom of the market as a whole, whilst establishing your own, tailor-made proposition to your customer base.
Enfo is constantly working with customers as well as market analyst firms to make sure we develop the right set of competencies as well as the product- and services offering suited to meet the customer requirements ahead of the main market trend. Regardless if your ambition is to be the unchallenged leader of the pack by breaking ground through technical innovation, or if you want to discuss where and how to differentiate your business versus the competition within the existing macro trend we’re here to help.
By the way, one of the predominant trends over the past 20 years is to focus on your specific core expertise, minding your own business, whilst working in partnership with experts in other fields such as technology or logistics, to provide better customer value. Ignore it at your peril!Fredric Travaglia, Business Development Consultant @ Enfo
Keep up to speed with new posts to The Project Manager Toolbox blog through RSS or join the discussion on Twitter @ FxTravaglia