Happy New Year.
It is that time of the year when, wherever you look, you are sure to find an article discussing the key trends to look out for in the next year. With so many different and, at times, contradicting information available, how do we know which trends matter and which ones don’t?
I am sure you came across lots of articles, already, offering their predictions on the key trends for 2012. Some of these predictions may be quite obvious and easy to accept – for instance, that mobile will be the main means by which users access websites, consume information, buy online, etc… Others, however, may seem farfetched.
How do we know when a particular event, finding or initiative will turn into an important trend?
To anticipate key trends we need to focus on the consequences of the events. What are the consequences and for whom or what? The trends that will matter – and, hence, that you need to prepare for – have three characteristics.
Range of consequences
A trend that affects multiple areas of life – e.g., not only how we work but also how we relax, communicate and manage our time – has more weight than one that is specific to one area, only – for instance, work. An example is cloud computing, which is no longer used solely by businesses.
Depth of consequences
A trend that changes how people see themselves, how they assign priorities in life or how they see others, is much more significant than a trend that is purely ‘cosmetic’. An example is the measurement of peer influence among social networks –it shapes how (some) people communicate, what they share, how often they update they post and so on. However, please note that I am not suggesting that Klout is a major player – I am only talking about the principle of measuring social influence.
Scope of consequences
A trend that affects (or has the potential to impact on) a broad range of people is more consequential than one that is specific to one group – that is not the say that the trend needs to affect everybody in the same way in order to be important. For instance, changes in oil prices impact most if not all citizens of a country, though the impact may vary for different groups.
A trend that meets all three criteria will definitely be something to look out for.
Try to apply these criteria to some of the articles mentioned earlier and you will quickly see some of those predictions falling apart – which is good, because then you can focus on what really matters.
What trends are you keeping an eye on?