Planning for the future requires managers to become trend spotters in an environment in which the globalization of markets and the pace and scope of change make it hard for companies to follow rapid shifts in technology, processes and consumer taste. They must learn to identify discontinuous change. This provides an entirely new landscape for managers to navigate and only the trend spotters hope to conquer it.
Benjamin Franklin said it succinctly: “Look before, or you will find yourself behind.”
Identifying trends is a neat way to synthesize consumer behavior, help eliminate uncertainty and identify new opportunities.
In the 1980s, the most significant trends were increasing competition from all corners of the globe, greater demands for quality, shorter product life cycles, process improvement and the need to create an agile work force.
What are the new trends today?
Most obvious is the Internet. With 50 million people connected in only five years, the Internet has become the fastest accepted communications medium ever. It is no longer just a data network; it’s a sales and distribution channel, and it has facilitated e-commerce, the ability to do business over the Web.
e-Commerce is enabling the integration of information industries – content, storage, networks, business applications and consumer devices – that have been isolated until recently. This integration is leading to industry convergence: the melding of consumer electronics, television, publishing, telecommunications, and computers for the purpose of facilitating new forms of value.