Build Competitive Advantage – Trend Advantage Part 3

Introducing DataKey’s Trend Advantage article series – learn how to recognize and capitalize on marketplace trends to accelerate your business!  [Part 1] | [Part 2] | [Part 3]

Clarifying a vision of the future is intended to ignite the creative minds of your R&D engineers, marketing and new product development teams. Companies that act now to analyze future mega trends are able build competitive advantage. Trend Advantage is a process to assess mega trends that are just starting to build today, and to design actions so that your company can profit over the long term. The entire process is based on three steps as shown below. This is the third in a series of articles that explains the steps in greater detail.

Turning Marketplace Trends Into Competitive Innovation

You will want to encourage the ideation process by helping your team to find the gaps from where your company is today and put the plans in place to create the vision you describe. A structure for your idea will help to focus the brainstorming – and ultimately selection – process for specific projects that represent the best business opportunities.

Initial Brainstorm

Bring your creative thought leaders together into a room and review the vision for the future in all the areas that apply to your business. Review and discuss the vision so that each person has a good understanding of the mega trends and the rationale that drives the vision. The objective of the brainstorming activity is to ultimately design near-term actions that will allow the company to take advantage of the vast change that is inevitable. This goal is often achieved over a series of workshops mixed with additional research, formation of sub-teams, and team expansion.

Evaluate Ideas

After your initial investigation, you may have multiple topic areas to explore further. Brainstorming and planning begins with the future market needs.  Focus on the mega trends and vision in each topic area and complete the grid below to help you determine which ideas are most viable. An example based on automobile connectivity and infotainment is provided in the table below.

Automobile Connectivity and Infotainment
What is important in the
Market in 2015 – 2020?
Ÿ Drivers are distracted in the car, not safeŸ
Gen Y Drivers want always-on connectivityŸ
Passengers want access to entertainment, like at home
Business and Technology Challenges Ÿ Cars are not connected to the internetŸ
Few automotive manufactures have adopted service models like the ones we typically offer
Laws / Rules / Standards
/ Expected Behavior
Ÿ Upcoming laws for electric vehicle efficiencyŸ
Expectations for driver safety and control
Competition (Who / What) Ÿ Other automotive suppliersŸ Google, Amazon, Apple, entertainment services
Strategic Alignment and Opportunity Ÿ Aligned with growth strategy in Automotive marketŸ
Aligned with growth strategy in services
New Business, R&D Topics Ÿ Infotainment services for automotive passengers delivered via the internet

In-Depth Exploration

In the above example, the team has successfully narrowed the market vision to the new business or R&D topic “infotainment services for automotive passengers delivered via the internet.” Once that is accomplished, they can then shift the focus to the traditional business planning using PEST, eScan, SWOT and business strategy tools for further refinement and planning.  The business planning may include a look at the industry focusing on topics such as:

  • Current State and Projected Industry Outlook
  • Major Challenges/Threats
  • Regulatory / Political Impact on Industry
  • Current Consumer Trends
  • Current Technology Trends
  • Emerging New Products / Leading Companies
  • Ecosystem: Potential Partnerships / Alliances.

DataKey Difference: Strategy is directly connected to tactical planning throughout the organization to ensure successful implementation. Generate inspiration towards a profitable and sustainable future for your company.  DataKey has the tools and experience your company needs to create effective strategies to interpret and evaluate mega trends, specifically tailored to your company’s industry, products and services. With DataKey as part of your team, take your long-term strategy off the back-burner and start building towards your potential today.

Ready to learn more?  Read the rest of the series [Part 1] | [Part 2] | [Part 3] or contact DataKey today!

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Imagine the Future – Trend Advantage Part 2

Introducing DataKey’s Trend Advantage article series – learn how to recognize and capitalize on marketplace trends to accelerate your business!  [Part 1] | [Part 2] | [Part 3]

Understanding mega trends and their potential for strategic change in your company is critical to long term survival and profits. Companies that act now to analyze future mega trends are able build competitive advantage. Trend Advantage is a process to assess mega trends that are just starting to build today, and to design actions so that your company can profit over the long term. The entire process is based on three steps as shown below. This is the second in a series of articles that explains the steps in greater detail.

Turning Marketplace Trends Into Competitive Innovation

Once you have identified the mega trend impacts, validated your assessment of those impacts, and positioned yourself to take advantage of the oncoming wave of change, it is time to inspire others around you to see the future the same way. While it’s tempting to look at market share, CAGR, ROI and other business case metrics, the unfortunate fact is that the numbers are all SWAGs about the future that cannot be gathered or confirmed. In some cases, the market is so new that a business case would not provide sufficient investment justification.

So what can you do to get your company on board? You are not promising immediate payback; instead, you are asking the company leaders to position the company for a longer term survival and profits.  To be successful, you’ll need to create a vision of the future that’s compelling – it must be believable, rational and, most importantly, inspiring. Keep in mind that the vision needs to satisfy the needs of the audience at almost every decision level, from the Board of Directors and top management to the leaders that manage the resources working on the new projects – perhaps in R&D, the CTO office, Product Innovation Labs or New Product Development.

To successfully reach all these groups, the idea needs to be visual and conceptual while still appealing to the power of data-driven decision making. You may need to create a vision in multiple areas depending on the scope of your business. Mock-up diagrams, use cases, and supporting data about the trend are all essential tools for making an effective and cohesive case for your vision.

Below is one example of the future of automobile connectivity and infotainment. It is easy to imagine that all of these elements that exist in a different form today could be put together and integrated into the environment of the car for safety, driver information, multi-purpose analytics and entertainment. With the vision clarified, it’s easy for top management to sign-off on the project. Your creative R&D engineers, marketing and new product development teams can begin the process of ideation, find the gaps from where your company is today, and put the plans in place to create the vision you describe.

Example of How Mega Trends Spark Innovation

DataKey Difference: Strategy is directly connected to tactical planning throughout the organization to ensure successful implementation. Generate inspiration towards a profitable and sustainable future for your company.  DataKey has the tools and experience your company needs to create effective strategies to interpret and evaluate mega trends, specifically tailored to your company’s industry, products and services. With DataKey as part of your team, take your long-term strategy off the back-burner and start building towards your potential today.

Ready to learn more?  Read the rest of the series [Part 1] | [Part 2] | [Part 3] or contact DataKey today!

Mega Trend Strategy – Trend Advantage Part 1

Introducing DataKey’s Trend Advantage article series – learn how to recognize and capitalize on marketplace trends to accelerate your business!  [Part 1] | [Part 2] | [Part 3]

Companies that act now to analyze future mega trends are able build competitive advantage. Trend Advantage is a repeatable, reliable process to assess mega trends that are just starting to build today, and to design actions so that your company can profit over the long term. The entire process is based on three steps as shown below. This is the first in a series of articles that explains the steps in greater detail.

Turning Marketplace Trends Into Competitive Innovation

A mega trend is defined as a gathering of changes, changes which are slow to form but nearly impossible to reverse. Mega trends significantly influence the direction of the future with far and wide reaching impact on society and business alike. In 2010, Frost and Sullivan described dozens of high-impact mega trends[1]  that covered all areas of life and all geographies of the world.

While the timing of the business impact for your company may not be imminent, these mega trends cannot be ignored. Business strategists, general managers and R&D leaders that attend to the mega trends will create near-term actions to take advantage of the vast change that is inevitable, and that can carry a thriving and profitable company into the future.

Social media is a good example of a mega trend that has come upon us recently. It started small with Web 2.0 and built up over time to see mass adoption through companies like Facebook, LinkedIn, and now Pinterest. In the early days of social media when MySpace was dominant, the idea of social networking didn’t move far beyond the college campus. Today, companies are scrambling to take advantage of social media as a new avenue for customer engagement and to buffer competitors who seek to erode customer loyalty.

Now is the time to identify the next trends, those that are just starting to gain steam and that will change your business in the near future.  The question to ask is, “Which trends are out there that are most likely to impact my business? And, how do I identify them?”

1. Assess Impact Potential

Consider the business you are in right now. Compare your business to the Frost and Sullivan mega trends to see if there is a positive, neutral or negative impact. For example, “Smart” is the next evolution after “Green.” According to the Smart mega trend, devices will have embedded sensors and processors which can handle the basic processing of environmental information. Imagine that your home heating and cooling system automatically deciding if the A/C or heat should be on based on the temperature inside and outside of the house.  How could your business be changed with this kind of sensor technology?

2. Validate the Trend

Second, gather additional validation of the mega trends that you believe will have an impact. Research the technology, investment and demographic changes that are fueling the trend. Are all of these factors logically supporting the trends? If so, that’s a clear indicator that this trend may be worth investing in.  For example, in 2020, today’s Gen Y will be between 24 and 36 years old. They are the future corporate managers, business owners and purchasers. They are social, have a preference for video, and expect 24/7 internet connectivity. How well will your business serve their needs?

3. Focus & Gather Resources

Third, narrow your focus to the mega trends where your business could benefit most by a change in products or business model. Identify companies already working in this area and how your company can leverage their knowledge, products or services. Similarly, identify individuals in these companies and find ways to enter into their network so that you can become knowledgeable as well.

Understanding mega trends and their potential for strategic change in your company is critical to long term survival and profits. Take action today to start to identify mega trend impacts, validate your assessment of those impacts, and position your company to take advantage of the oncoming wave of change.

MegaTrends Word Cloud

DataKey Difference: Strategy is directly connected to tactical planning throughout the organization to ensure successful implementation. Generate inspiration towards a profitable and sustainable future for your company.  Don’t let mega trends catch you unprepared.  DataKey has the tools and experience your company needs to create effective strategies to interpret and evaluate mega trends, specifically tailored to your company’s industry, products and services. With DataKey as part of your team, take your long-term strategy off the back-burner and start building towards your potential today.

Ready to learn more?  Read the rest of the series [Part 1] | [Part 2] | [Part 3] or contact DataKey today!