How do you develop innovative strategies that secure your position and success in the market place?
You look at trends, and then ask questions about how those trends, projected into the future, could affect your business.
Many types of trends comprise the landscape, including politics, geography, and the world order, just to name a few. Here are three you might consider:
Demographics: The next decade promises massive growth of the senior population. And, people are relocating much less than before.
Technology: Mobile technology, and the blending of multiple technologies for retrieving or disseminating information. And the prodigious proliferation known as big data.
Society: In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; recently it’s gone down to just 51%. (I’m in trouble if for an anniversary present, my wife signs me up for eharmony.com.) And, there’s gay marriage.
Those are just three categories of trends. But you get the idea. You have to determine which trends affect your business.
After looking at a trend, you ask 4 questions:
- What affect will this have on the products and services I produce?
- What affect will it have on how I deliver those products and services?
- What products and services should I develop for the future?
- What markets should I target?
Let’s look at two examples.
Large, international company: After looking at many global trends, an international company was considering the introduction of a new product. The launch would require millions of dollars to bring this product to the market.
It would be a bold move in an innovative strategy, and the launch involved many risks.
But the global landscape, and the changing trends that were influencing that landscape, required a bold move if they wanted to maintain the top position in a very competitive industry.
They decided to take the risks and launch the product, which was a huge success.
Small Business: My friend Tom Falco is in the residential construction industry. During the great recession, he scanned the industry landscape, and saw that, because of falling home prices, people couldn’t sell their existing homes. So instead of looking for another house, they were staying put.
Or they didn’t have money to buy a new house. Others, because of the shaky, uncertain economy, didn’t feel comfortable taking the risk of buying a new house.
Regardless of why, they weren’t buying new homes. That was the trend.
So Tom asked himself, “What can I do to get more business? What is it that people might want to do, short of buying another house?”
He decided to focus on home improvement, and found that people who can’t move at least want to improve the house they’re in.
So, Tom focused on remodeling existing houses—installing new windows, putting that new roof on, or building a new addition, or finishing that basement. It’s not the same as building new houses, but it would do until the industry picks up.
Look at trends, then ask the right questions.
What trends are you looking at? What innovative strategies will you use to take advantage of those trends?