Like the Big Bang, the digital world’s growth has been explosive, evolving from a novel curiosity to a full-blown necessity. In order to survive and thrive in today’s marketplace, a powerful and holistic digital strategy is more important than ever.

As the world of digital has grown in importance, it’s become harder to distinguish a number of important concepts associated with it. Today’s business leaders not only need to know the differences between their digital marketing, digital tools, and digital processes, but synthesize them to create seamless digital strategies that serve the needs of their business.

As difficult as this may be, learning to organize digital activities into a cohesive digital strategy is essential to the survival of any business operating in today’s tech-driven, consumer-centric, I-need-it-yesterday world. While there is no perfect method to produce the best digital strategy, monitoring three trend landscapes will ensure that you can develop a strategy that is market-leading, brand aligned, and innovative.

Keep Your Enemies Close

Having an eye on the competition and what it’s doing helps leaders contextualize industry trends and evaluate potential disruption. Identifying the competition’s benchmarks also encourages evaluation of a business’s own strengths and weaknesses. As competitors merge or acquire one another, introduce new products, or change their brand messaging, keeping a finger on the pulse means the difference between a nimble response or a clumsy scramble to catch up.

For instance, a competitor might release a product with new voice-recognition software — does that mean your company should look into that technology as well? Some research into your competitor’s products and how they’re faring on the marketplace could give you a good idea. If their product ends up being a flop, you’ll have saved your company considerable money and embarrassment by waiting before jumping into the market yourself.

Sun Tzu was right in saying, “Know the enemy, know the self, and you will not face danger in 100 battles.” With a detailed analysis of the landscape, executives will better know when to enter new markets, walk away from unprofitable initiatives, or introduce new features or products.

What Consumers Want

As much as you need to know about competitors and competitive trends, this knowledge amounts to very little without knowing your customer’s needs, attitudes, and digital behaviors. More than anything else, customers need to feel brand messaging and products are relevant to them.

Relevant experiences drive consumer action. If a user can’t relate in any way to a new product or new messaging of a current product, they’re highly unlikely to buy or adopt a new technology. A service is guaranteed to fail if it addresses a problem that none of your customers ever actually face.

When implementing new features or introducing a new product, it’s important to keep the ever-changing landscape of consumer attitudes in mind. Taking the time to think through a user’s digital experience and ensure it’s a positive one can ensure that you’re addressing the real-life needs of your consumer base. In the long run, relevant experiences help companies build lasting relationships with consumers based on mutual understanding.

Faster Than the Speed of Digital

Even more than consumer or competitive trends, monitoring digital trends is crucial for any business. Before Warby Parker, the world relied almost exclusively on Luxottica for their eyewear. Before Uber, taxis ruled the hired car world. The recording industry was already experiencing headaches from rampant piracy before Spotify, but the on-demand music service only made that pain ten times worse.

Staying on top of digital trends means the difference between incredible success or abject failure. A keen eye trained on innovative, disruptive technologies and the preparedness to use them can make penetrating a core customer group that much easier. By closely watching how the digital landscape is changing, you can ensure your business maintains or expands its foothold in the marketplace.

Three Trends Are Better Than One

In order to succeed in business, really trying to blend all three trend landscapes is crucial. Simply picking one landscape to monitor, while helpful, will only help your digital strategy development so much. Holistically monitoring trends across all three landscapes enables a more informed digital strategy that will ultimately prove more effective in achieving your business goals.