The term trends generally refers to a general direction in which technologies, markets and companies are changing. Trends are long-term developments that occur slowly and find their way into the mainstream through different players (research institutions, development laboratories, innovation and digitization departments).
The basis of trends are so-called megatrends, which describe the big picture. Megatrends such as demographic change, increasing awareness of climate change or the worldwide connectivity of machines and devices are general trend indicators. It’s like saying to a hiking group: “Head south.”
For companies, megatrends do not result in direct action plans. Megatrends are therefore subdivided into more concrete sub-trends. For example, once a year the international consulting and technology institute Gartner publishes the most important technology trends for the coming year. For 2020, for example, these include hyperautomation, the democratization of know-how and the practical blockchain. In addition, there are trends for individual departments of companies, such as marketing trends, HR trends or management trends. Finally, there are industry trends and so-called micro-trends.
- Industry trends describe the effects of trends on specific industries and markets.
- Microtrends are examples of use cases and technologies. They show how trends are implemented in practice.
Industry trends and microtrends serve as inspiration for the so-called fuzzy front end of innovation stage, where idea generation is essential.