With technology advancing at a breakneck pace, staying on top of the latest digital trends can be overwhelming. Proper tracking, though, can mean the difference between success and failure.
Do you remember Homejoy? The web-based home cleaning service was one of last year’s most promising startups, with over $40 million in VC investment. In July of this year, though, Homejoy shut down its website — the company had been brought down by worker classification lawsuits, and what was supposed to have been the new Uber quickly faded into obscurity.
Around the same time Homejoy closed, Jet.com launched with $225 Million in venture funding. Jet is aiming to take on Amazon with cheap goods and an even cheaper membership rate, and after some initial turbulence, the online retailer is reaching new heights every day. If Jet starts putting a dent in the profits of its chief rival, the entire retail economy could be changed forever — but as Homejoy discovered, in the world of digital, what is here today can be gone tomorrow.
Trends Can Disrupt Markets
Homejoy’s attempt to change the home cleaning industry with freelance workers ended up backfiring, but just as often, these adventurous ideas end up having highly positive ramifications. Once-hot commodities like Monster.com and TheLadders have seen their place in the job board sun completely usurped by disruptors like The Muse and Indeed, which offer sleeker UX, more powerful searches, and better discovery. Thanks to digital, success in today’s economy often depends on disruption, the race to make previous business models and value chains obsolete.
Companies like Uber, which seem to have such a strong foothold in their market, could similarly see themselves dethroned by new technology. If Google and Tesla perfect the self-driving car, Uber may be done before they’re able to come out with their own prototype. The same goes for traditional auto companies — monitoring digital trends is one of the most important tasks for a business if it wants to stay relevant, even if it’s a traditional enterprise.
However, just watching what is trending won’t guarantee success. It’s absolutely crucial that companies take the right approach to trends monitoring.
Staying On Trend
The key to successful monitoring to view trends holistically. Snapchat’s rapid rise to startup stardom is certainly remarkable, but what is it going to accomplish? Sure, it’s a fun way to communicate with each other, but is it going to change the way you talk to your healthcare company? This is where a holistic and contextual approach to monitoring trends becomes vital — there’s no sense in trying to latch on to a trend that has little or no relevance to your goals.
Beyond that, you have to have your finger on the pulse of each company and technology that could affect your business. Macro trends, mergers and acquisitions activity, financial reports, partnerships, and future projections are all important factors to be looking at and considering to evaluate how important a particular trend or disruption will be in the future. If you’re consistently able to put this data in the context of your industry, as well as understand its general role in the digital marketplace, you should be able to separate the quick fads from the true disruptors.
Businesses also need to establish a rhythm and cadence to their digital trend monitoring — a feed that delivers the information in an integrated and regular context. One person can’t sit down every six months and attempt to evaluate all of the trends that happened in the previous period. It needs to be continuous and ingrained within the company, made into a regular priority and not an occasional chore.
With a well-established and consistent method for constant trend monitoring, businesses ensure they stay on top of disruptions so they can keep up with the ones that matter — and ditch the ones that don’t.