I have been thinking lately about the value of trend spotting and the people or groups that provide that service in your organization. To some organizations and industries it is very important and to some it is not even on the radar. Is it important to your organization? Does it need to exist?
By trend spotting, I am referring to the practice of monitoring trends, particularly those that are pertinent to your business or industry. Those may be a demographic shift; an alteration in preferences for one product over another; a change in how people perceive a product or service; a political movement or a response to the shifting political current. All of these things could have an effect on how you do business and the way you sell your product or service, including developing the right product mix. In our connected world, it is easy for demands to suddenly boom or to die out just as easily, and without monitoring those trends, we could either miss a new opportunity or be left holding the bag when demand for our specialty or product dries up.
I have been searching for web sites that could extend my trend spotting abilities and help me to stay abreast of new developments that are important to me. Here are some sites that may be of interest to you as well.
Springwise.com, according to their site, is “helped by a network of 17,000 spotters and scans the globe for smart new business ideas, delivering immediate inspiration to entrepreneurial minds.” These spotters are organized into a group through springspotters.com. This is a fascinating concept that I have never considered in the past—anyone can submit a trend or a new business idea that they think is rising, and if their submission is chosen and aired, they are awarded with “cool gifts.” You can either browse their site or become a paying member and follow the trends related to your needs. This is, in essence, crowd sourcing for trends.
Trendwatching.com is very similar to Springwise. It is a fee-based service that supplies you with trend information targeted specifically to your business and industry. The trends are fed by an organization called happyspotting.com. An interesting fact—contributions to happyspotting are rewarded with points that can be redeemed for gifts. Apparently, it is not about the money anymore, it is about the cool gifts.
What Springwise and Trendspotting are doing is harnessing the power of people around the world who are watching out for new products, new businesses, and new ways of doing things. I do not know what the qualifications are to be a happyspotter or a springspotter, but there must be an algorithm or filter that tries to determine whether this is a random occurrence, the beginning of a trend, or a “tipping point”. To help you stay ahead of the trends, these could be valuable services to you.
Are you a trend spotter? Do you have someone in your organization that is dedicated to that task? Perhaps multiple people each have a piece in their job description? Is it even important to your organization to stay on top of trends? Let me know your thoughts on how important you think this is.
Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.