Finding inspiration everywhere: how trends can benefit your business

Trends are trendy; they come and go fast. One minute, your industry is abuzz about the wearable that’s going to change everything, and the next minute, no one remembers what you’re talking about. It can be tough to know which trends you should spend time tracking, and which ones are better left alone. Think of trends as idea-starters; things that have the potential to spark something altogether new when you apply your own skills and perspective to it.

 

The tech industry is rich with examples of trends that became popular in one sector and later morphed into something even bigger. Cloud services started out as storage solutions for large enterprises, and now enable the entire mobile app ecosystem. Netflix became so popular that now even HBO offers streaming on demand. And Tesla turned the automotive industry upside down with their constant pursuit of innovation, reports Rick Newman for Yahoo! Finance. As you plot the future of your own business, here are a few questions you should ask:

 

 

Are we sustainable?

 

Sustainability isn’t just a trend anymore – it’s a mandate. With laws and regulations to keep businesses accountable for their environmental impact, nearly every company has a sustainability protocol in place. However, with a movement this big, it’s always smart to stay one step ahead.

 

Start thinking of ways your organization can become less wasteful. From reducing energy consumption to implementing recycling programs, the many small things you do to make your business more “green” all add up.

 

 

Now apply that same thinking to the products and services you offer. How can these same principles affect what you’re putting out into the world? What kinds of new customers could you attract with a strong sustainability story? According to a recent study by Havas, brands that invest in being meaningful outperform the stock market by 133%.

 

 

Are we putting enough emphasis on design?

 

No matter what product or service you offer, design plays a huge part in how well it works. From your website to physical products, a positive user experience is crucial to your success. Thoughtful, people-centered design could be the missing link between a sturdy product that gets ignored – and one that your customers can’t live without. Here are a few things to look for: • What are the small, fast-moving startups doing? They can take chances that larger brands can’t. • How about companies in completely different industries? Their new designs could inspire your own efforts. • What do your customers think? Don’t be afraid to ask – after all, they’re the ones who truly matter. At Concur’s recent Fusion event, our CMO sat down with several Concur Innovation Award winners to learn how they approach coming up with new ideas. Take a listen to what they said.

 

What are your peers doing?

 

Always keep an eye on your competitors – they just might be on to something exciting. Companies within your industry are probably trying out new trends, and you’ll have a front-row seat to see what works, and what doesn’t. Watch your competitors closely, and don’t be afraid to try out what they’re doing if it has been successful. Of course you can’t duplicate their work, but it could ignite your thinking in new ways. In a business world that’s constantly evolving, you have to use every resource available to keep your edge.

 

Your company could be the next “big thing”

 

Stepping into unknown territory is frightening, and chasing trends can feel like looking for the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. However, taking a few thoughtfully calculated risks could be a necessary step for your organization. Focus on what matters to your business, and then follow the path that most closely aligns with your core values. Trend or not, if you stay true to what your company stands for, everybody wins.

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