Most of the Innovation Consultants I know, advice businesses on doing trend-spotting as part of the innovation process. I also insist on doing the same because like creative thinking, I believe trendspotting isn’t a one time activity.
It is not a “communicate and forget it” activity. It is an ongoing activity.
Currently, I think this is where a lot of eyes are opening. Businesses are finally taking notice of one of the not-so-obvious benefits of using social media: it is a great tool for aggregating and noticing patterns.
Scanning conversations between two or more people (tweetchats), a person’s Twitter feed, list of recent blog posts, recent bookmarks, etc…sometimes these patterns can/will show a trend.
Curators will then create a single place where they can publicly aggregate content (scoop.it), and sometimes they will do the dot-connecting for others. Beyond the marketing hype, this is an unspoken benefit of social media.
When did you stop observing, listening and learning?
I’ve been asked about trendspotting more times than I can remember, and I think this is part of the problem: when you stop observing, listening and learning; you forget to look beyond the obvious.
Trendspotting is about noticing patterns, and aggregating them to understand the meaning behind those patterns. You are looking for an unspoken insight. This requires that you observe, listen an learn by questioning.
There are a handful of people and organizations (Trendhunter, Trendspotting) that gather trends they observe, and then create detailed reports about them. These a very good insights. But, they are biased because they are from their point of view. Not yours.
It is imperative that you have your own point of view. That you make your own observations. I advice you to do your own trendspotting.
Ask yourself: What do I notice? And why is that?