Missing trends can blind-side you

Missing trends can blind-side you

In the practice of helping companies with strategic thinking and execution planning we regularly set time aside to look at trends. For example, a residential carpet cleaning client saw that the trend toward hardwood floors in homes and workplaces, and was prepared for the impact on its business. Or take McDonald’s or anyone in the restaurant space. They have all had to adjust to changing dietary preferences.

Frankly those are the kinds of industry trends that are easier to spot for any insider. Harder to see are the impacts of trends you don’t associate with your own industry.

7-Eleven identified the e-commerce wave and decided to give up valuable shelf space in its stores to make space for direct shippers to position delivery lockers. Amazon can ship direct to some local 7-Eleven’s for recipients to pick up their merchandise. 7-Eleven is currently testing in 186 stores. Retailers that ship with UPS or FED X can ship to these lockers. According to The Wall Street Journal, 7-Eleven executives say they had to find a way to stay relevant as an increasing number of consumers shop for groceries, personal grooming products and other convenience store staples online. Some trends are impacting all industries. On February 3. 2017, The Wall Street Journal published a front page story called “”The End of Employees.”” The story documents the shift with U.S. companies to replace employees with independent contractors, and the reasons for this change. Do you wonder what your competitors are doing in this regard, and whether it is a plus or minus for your business?

Minimum wage hikes are predicted to “kill millions of traditional sales jobs sooner than later” according to a January 21, 2017 article in Forbes. They point out that JC Penney’s labor force is about half of the size of Amazon’s but their sales are only one-tenth that of Amazon.

Retail automation like that being tested in Amazon Go stores, requires no floor employees, nor cashiers to collect payments. It will all be done by technology.

Manufacturing: Mark P. Mills who is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a faculty fellow at Northwestern University published a column in The Wall Street Journal on February 3, 2017 on “”Tomorrow’s Manufacturing Revolution”” which deserves your reading. In it he describes near-term changes in bioelectronics, electroceuticals and transient electronics (think digital devices that literally disappear on a schedule or are consumable). Check it out.

What questions for your business do these maps evoke?

This map shows the world divided into seven groups (each with its distinct color) with each section containing one billion people.

This map shows (blue) where Google Street View is available

Countries where there’s a McDonald’s Restaurant

More people live inside the circle shown, than live outside of it.

Recommendation: In advance of your next quarterly planning session, assign everyone the task of bringing in at least three trends they’ve spotted. Use this as a jumping off point for your SWT exercise (Strengths, Weaknesses and Trends, a part of the Seven Strata of Strategy in Scaling Up).

Suggest that when they read blogs, newspapers and periodicals to be alert trend stories regardless of their relevancy to your business.

We’ve often discovered trends while viewing recent TED Talk videos.

Or check Frost & Sullivan’s website (and especially see video are Artificial Intelligence):

Here are a couple of book suggestions:

  • The Third Wave, An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future, by Steve Case
  • Abundance, The Future is Better Than You Think, by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler
  • The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross

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