Use trendspotting to pinpoint potential strategy disruptions early.
Strategy defines the long-term direction of the enterprise, yet many executives fail to look beyond 3-5 years. This means you may fail to spot highly disruptive shifts that are only just starting to develop.
“It’s critical to proactively scope for potential threats and opportunities across various plausible future scenarios,” says Marty Resnick, VP Analyst at Gartner. “Armed with the right information, you can work with peers to prioritize your enterprises’ responses. This drives confidence in your ability to make good decisions and capture opportunities, even during disrupted times.”
Use a framework like Gartner’s “Tapestry of Trends” to scope for a diverse set of trends, including those that may lie beyond your everyday responsibilities as a business executive. In each trend area, start by asking “What if …?” to help you determine what possibilities could become your mission-critical priorities. These are trends you need to chart.
Trendspotting not only supports an adaptive business strategy, it can also trigger ideation that drives innovation. Identifying trends early helps focus decisionmaking and optimize and modernize the systems that support those decisions. In 2023, it could aid, for example, in these three goals.
1. Decrease complexity in business and operating models
Generative AI is just one of the technology trends highlighted in the 2023 Tapestry of Trends. While ChatGPT hype has sparked widespread experimentation (or at least discussion of) GenAI use cases, in the longer term, Gartner expects GenAI to become a general-purpose technology with impacts as transformative as the steam engine, electricity and the internet.
Consider two Gartner strategic assumptions:
By 2026, code generation models will halve the amount of code written by developers/humans.
By 2025, synthetic data will reduce the collection of personal customer data, avoiding 70% of privacy violation sanctions.
This illustrates how technology trends open up new opportunities but upend existing processes. Evaluating change early helps you remove unnecessarily complex systems and processes that may hinder your organization's ability to navigate and thrive. For example, determine how synthetically generated data could speed the analytics development cycle, lessen regulatory concerns, help monetize data and lower the cost of data acquisition.
2. Embrace chaos, including seemingly unlikely outliers
Creating resilience is the most popular enterprise response to uncertainty, but that shouldn’t mean guarding against disruption. Instead, absorb it, experience it and evolve from it. Include in your scenario planning at least a few far-fetched storylines to pressure test how your strategic initiatives would respond. In business processes, regularly feed outlier cases that do not fit the standard.
The metaverse merging of digital and physical realities is a good example of a trend that may seem fantastical but drives a range of possible business scenarios by potentially transporting or extending physical activities to a virtual world or by transforming the physical one.
Gartner expects that by 2027, over 40% of large organizations worldwide will use a combination of Web3, spatial computing and digital twins in metaverse-based projects to increase revenue. Those that embrace this type of possibility can plan strategically to spot opportunities among shifts in how people and businesses relate to each other.
Executives want to be confident in their decision making abilities, especially in uncertain times. By recognizing trends early, you can more effectively analyze, contextualize and communicate a response.
Effective trendspotting involves continually monitoring the environment around you, in your industry and geography, and in other industries and geographies. Consider the trend Gartner sees toward national self-sufficiency
Relentless cost-driven globalization over decades has led to supplies and capabilities becoming concentrated in strategic competitive states — creating supply chain weakness evident during the pandemic and amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In response, many governments are now trying to improve domestic capabilities and supplies in key sectors, like military, healthcare, technology, food and agriculture, energy, and manufacturing.
By 2030, however, Gartner expects 66% of national self-sufficiency agendas to morph into regional self-sufficiency collaboration within blocs because of disparities in national resources. This will affect the global competitive position of many companies as government subsidies rise and fall and access to foreign markets changes.
This article has been updated from the original to reflect new events, conditions or research.
Marty Resnick is a VP Analyst at Gartner, where he primarily studies the futuristic disruptions that impact enterprise mission-critical priorities, with a special focus on how to spot, select and implement emerging and futuristic technologies through trendspotting and tech radars.
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