Using Hard Trends To Create And Maintain A Competitive Edge

Contrary to popular belief, if you want to take a peek into the future, you do not need to hop in a DeLorean like Marty McFly and Doc Brown to prepare yourself or your business to unlock those game changing opportunities.  Successfully anticipating the future of technology and the tangible benefits this new age of hyper change can offer us all, only involves getting to grips with the science of certainty.

These are known as Hard Trends and are quite simply things that we know will happen and are not to be confused with the gift of hindsight, that often fools us into believing we saw things coming all along.  It’s only when you identify the Hard Trends that will happen, the facts that are shaping the future, that you can find a new level of certainty in this uncertain world we live in.  When armed with the knowledge of what is a certainty, you can see what could potentially disrupt your current business model.

These predictable future facts are vital in giving any organization the competitive edge by navigating around the future disruptive technologies and understanding the future needs of your customers.  For example, look at how we used to hail cabs around the world a few years ago, we hopped in completely unaware of how much it would cost, not knowing if we were going to get ripped off.  It’s clear that something had to change.

Whatever your opinion on Uber, they met their customers’ needs by merely providing an on-demand cab service wherever you are, that gives you the cost of your unique fare beforehand, without even having to make a call or have the correct money in your wallet.  The service solved problems we didn’t realize we had and provided a fresh approach away from the old way of doing things.

Here we are in 2016, and traditional cab firms are up in arms and complaining about this disruptive technology, but if these traditional companies operated with an anticipatory mindset rather than a past one, much of this bad feeling and loss of business could have been entirely avoided.  The inconvenient truth is that technology is driving exponential change, and that means; if it works right now, it’s already obsolete, and we should be identifying those future disruptions now, so we have the choice of being the disruptor or the disrupted.

By identifying Hard Trends, you can begin to see invisible opportunities, as well as predict and resolve those seemingly impossible problems before they occur.  You can’t predict everything, but by using this approach, you can predict more than enough to make all the difference.

The music and film industry is another great example of how customer behavior was changing much faster than the industry itself.  It didn’t take long for the game-changing iPod and iTunes to change consumers’ love affair with physical media.  The number of families who were removing shelves of CDs and DVDs from their home and declaring them clutter or dust magnets took another big jump, when the world of streaming music and video allowed us to carry entire libraries inside our smartphones.

Rather than embrace and extend these Hard Trends, greedy bosses foolishly opted to cling to their business models from the 80s and 90s that had rapidly become completely irrelevant in this new digital age.  The golden rule that these former giants often fail to grasp is that if it can be done it will be done, and if you don’t do it, someone else will.

Even now when we have experienced digital transformation several times before, I see the same mistakes being made.  Let’s look at television, it’s clear to see that Millennials, and Generation Z behind them, no longer tune into television like we all used to.  Even us baby boomers are questioning the need for cable TV packages for over $100 a month when an inexpensive Netflix subscription for a handful of dollars, along with an online connection to a wealth of information or services is all we need.

How are these traditional cable companies reacting to these changes?  They introduce data caps and position themselves as the bad guys, rather than forward thinking and constantly evolving with their customer’s style of service.

On Christmas Day morning the FitBit app used to manage their wearable devices jumped 20 places up the iOS mobile chart to become the most downloaded app in the world.  On its own it’s a massive wake-up call to naysayers and suggests that wearable technology is no longer exclusive to the tech geeks , but has officially been embraced by mainstream consumers.

The perfect partnership of 360-degree video footage and the onslaught of virtual reality headsets due in the next few months from big names such as Google, Facebook, HTC and Microsoft also show a glimpse into our future.  The results tick the big three boxes that modern audiences crave by being immersive, social and mobile and while the New York Times is transporting it’s readers into the heart of news stories, what is their competition doing?  They are sticking with the present – and history has taught us how this story always ends.

As on-demand services become the norm, wearables go mainstream along with the emergence of augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and robotic drones expanding far beyond fire, police search, rescue, and real estate photography.  Business leaders need to ask themselves right now, how will this disruptive technology affect their business landscape?

Empowered by certainty, Hard Trends offer anyone that will listen, a flash foresight into our future with complete clarity. Only when you understand how technology is evolving along with our behaviors and expectations as consumers, can you honestly see the ROI in steering your ship around the big iceberg on the horizon.

In a world filled with continuous digital disruption, it’s important to remember: if it works, it’s obsolete.  It’s time everyone started using Hard Trends to create the flashes of foresight that allow you to move forward with a high level of confidence, sooner rather than later, and grab hold of the game-changing opportunities available to each and every one of us.