Introducing the Innovation Portfolio Management Playbook
What is Innovation Trend Management & Scouting?
Trend management refers to all the activities involved in scouting for and acting upon trends to fuel an organization’s innovation efforts. The process begins with researching and identifying global trends in innovation, technology, and society that are relevant to the organization. Then, those trends are evaluated based on their relevance to the business and the opportunities that they present. Those considered to have the highest potential will then be selected to guide the direction of the organization’s innovation activity.
What are the Benefits of Innovation Trend Management?
Future-Proof Your Organization
The trend scouting process ensures that your organization is on top of market developments and can anticipate and prepare for disruptive market shifts.
As well as limiting the impact of disruption, trend management brings your organization closer to consumers by helping you to understand their changing demands, expectations and preferences.
New Products & Markets
Identifying and acting upon trends helps guide organizations toward the development of innovative products and into lucrative new markets.
Fuel Your Innovation Ecosystem
Connect relevant trends with key stakeholders and initiatives as part of your wider enterprise innovation program to maximize the potential of your efforts.
What Are the Challenges of Innovation Trend Management?
The trend landscape is almost limitless, so it can be difficult to create order from the chaos
Innovation never stands still, so you need a resource that is constantly updated at scale
It’s important that the insights gleaned from trends are absorbed across the organization, so effective communication and engagement is key
Identifying trends is one thing, but the hard part is identifying those with the highest potential for your organization and integrating them into your wider innovation program
How to Build an Innovation Trend Scouting Program?
Let’s take a look at the most important aspects to consider when launching your trend management program.
The world of innovation trends can be intimidating, so before you start delivering value for your business you need to understand the context, themes, and terminology. Whichever approach you take, you should start by understanding the central framework of Megatrends, Macro-Trends, and Micro trends.
Mega trends are big picture trends that extend far into the future and have the biggest impact on society. A perfect example in the times we live in right now is climate change: a trend with roots that began long ago and an impact that will be felt for years to come. Mega trends don’t begin or end overnight…they represent major societal shifts that change the way we live. Other examples include, cryptocurrencies, the metaverse, globalization, and more.
Think of macro trends as technological or societal developments that have a big impact on society over a period of roughly five to ten years or more. They are some of the key developments that occur within the context of whatever mega trends are impacting the world at the time. Prime examples of macro trends changing the way we live and work at the moment are , the metaverse, cryptocurrency, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT).
These are trends at their most granular level. Micro trends may or may not have a lasting impact, but they are happening right now. They can be very specific changes to products or a market in general, and as a result there can be countless microtrends occurring in an industry at any one time. Examples include individual technologies like facial recognition for smartphones, a new social media platform that has quickly become popular, or a design aesthetic that impacts a product category for a time.
If you are looking to bring new innovations to your organization, then you naturally need to be aware of the innovations that are circulating outside of your organization. There are found fundamental approaches to managing and monitoring trends. Each of them requires different levels of investment, and this of course correlates with the potential value they can deliver.
This is the most basic kind of trend management process you can employ. As the name suggests, it involves simply monitoring the trend landscape and using the insights you gain to passively inform your innovation projects and solutions. While basic, this approach can still bring value in the form of inspiration and exploration of innovation themes.
Naturally, when a trend appears that you want to utilize or respond to directly, you should employ a reactive approach and take action. For example, if you notice a macro trend that can disrupt one of your existing products, you could respond by reaching out to partner with a solution provider, or alternatively by launching an R&D hackathon to create the solution internally…
A proactive approach involves actively scouting for the most relevant trends that can impact your business. This can be achieved in various ways, but the main difference is that you are making a concerted effort to identify trends that are aligned with your organization specific needs.
This is by far the most powerful approach to trend management, and it involves embedding trends directly within strategic points of your wider innovation management program. This encompasses all of the above approaches and more, through a holistic innovation management process.
Alignment with internal stakeholders at every turn is fundamental to any innovation process. There are always tough calls to make when scouting for and managing trends, and so it’s important to engage a variety of experts and different teams so that you that you can make those decisions confidently.
Unsurprisingly, this is the team that you’ll work most closely with when you’re running your trend scouting and management program. Your research and your portfolio will need to align with your organization’s innovation strategy, and the innovation team will help you to stay on track. Your scouts will also be able to help the innovation team move forward by keeping them informed about any opportunities that are out there.
Buy-in from leadership is critical to any strategic innovation initiative. Without your C-Suite aligned and on-board, your trend management and scouting program might not even get off the ground, and if it does, it won’t have much of an impact. Communicate with your C-Suite regularly and bring them into the conversation whenever key decisions need to be made.
Your trend portfolio is going to affect your organization’s R&D department and inform their work, so it’s important to communicate your findings with them regularly. Your R&D team will also be an invaluable source of insights and opinion when you evaluate your portfolio and the direction you’re taking in your scouting efforts.
You can’t manage what you can’t measure, and this is no different when it comes to innovation trends. You need to be able to understand the impact your initiative is delivering in order to decide on how you handle it moving forward. These are some of the most common metric employed by companies in this domain.
Financial metrics will be your friend for two reasons. They’ll ensure accountability for budgets across teams, and it’s what your executive leadership team will want to see. You could measure key financial KPIs such as the percentage of company capital invested in its innovation program, and the annual profit/loss of its innovation activities.
Whenever a new product or service is launched, a company can measure its sales revenue against the rest of its new products or services, and this is a useful way to record of the value of each innovation over time. Companies will often measure the total revenue value of its innovation program by analyzing the percentage of its sales amassed from recent product launches.
If you’re ready to invest in trend management, then great. However it’s pretty much impossible to create an effective trend management process from the bottom up, and manually maintain it. So you need to understand the tools and services that you can use to help you get started.
Trend radars are an invaluable tool that enables you to map out individual trends and technologies according to various criteria. You’ll be able to see all of this data visualized in a way that you can play around with, toggling across different views, filtering and comparing different data. Trend radars can therefore be really useful in
Another option is to work with an agency or service provider who offer trends as a service. There are many different ways for this to be achieved, but usually the agency will conduct exhaustive research and come back to you with a list of trends tailored to your requirements. The downside to this is that it’s usually very expensive, and they are often just using a trend radar themselves anyway.
An innovation trend management tool allows you to not only research, scout, and identify trends but to build a holistic trend management process that ensure your trends reach the relevant stakeholders and contributes towards your business in a meaningful way.
What is Innovation Trend Management Software?
Trend management software exists to help you uncover and understand emerging technological and societal shifts, and to identify those which represent important strategic focus areas for your organization. A comprehensive trend management platform will constantly update itself with new trends that you can search intuitively according to the criteria relevant to your business. Then you can progress these trends through a process that includes collaborative discussion, knowledge sharing, trend evaluation, tracking and analysis.
How does Innovation Trend Management Software work?
The best trend management solutions will help you navigate an end-to-end process that starts with discovering trends and ends at the point where you have everything you need to incorporate the insights you’ve gleaned into your business’s own innovation program.
Here’s a summary of the typical stages of the trend management process:
The Innovation Trend Management Process:
The first step is to discover your trends. Trend management software should deliver a constant flow of new innovations that sit within a framework of micro, macro, and megatrends. This approach helps you first to understand the bigger picture of the overarching changes that are taking place (megatrends), before honing in on specific areas and innovations within them. Your employees should also be able to submit their own trends as and when they’re discovered.
Once you’ve seen what’s out there, it’s time to understand how these trends can benefit your business. Tools such as a trend sonar will help you to organize the trends you’re interested in and assess their relevance.
Thirdly, you’ll want to critically evaluate each of your preferred trends to determine how they can be incorporated. Each solution varies in the tools they offer to support this, but scorecards and dynamic Kanban interfaces are known to be effective.
The final step is to integrate your findings into your organization’s own innovation efforts. Once you’ve identified which trends are best placed to deliver value to your business, you can launch new campaigns to ideate ways to innovate around them.
Keep your place at the cutting edge. Build a collaborative trend knowledge base to pinpoint the innovations that can have an exponential impact on your company.
Benefits of Q-trend
Research strategic trend opportunities and ensure you never miss out on the next big thing.
Create a process to automatically share trends with relevant stakeholders across your business
Crowdsource trends from your entire workforce or from a selected audience
Use the trends you discover to fuel further innovation across your ecosystem
Don’t Just Take Our Word For It…
Qmarkets allowed us to make incredible progress and gain meaningful input and insights from the public.
We’re seeing ROI in both savings and earnings, with ideas to improve processes, existing products and services, and even new businesses and markets.
This platform contributes to the transformation of our company into a customer-centric obsessed agile organization.
…And that’s innovation trend management! Now you have a good understanding of the subject and how to build a successful trend management program. Next up, learn about the other approaches within innovation management by visiting the pages below.
Idea management is the structured process of collecting, screening developing, and implementing ideas that can help your organization to be more innovative and efficient.
Continuous improvement is exactly what it sounds like – the practice of continually improving and incrementally enhancing the performance of a company’s products, processes, or services.
Innovation & technology scouting allows companies to bypass these obstacles and deliver new products, services, and solutions that can dramatically enhance their value proposition.
Innovation portfolio management is a term that describes the maintenance and progression of an organization’s various innovation projects.
Enterprise innovation is a marathon, not a sprint. Build a sustainable innovation portfolio and measure the value of your innovation efforts over time.