4 Minute Read

In this age of disruption, the ability for organizations to accurately predict, monitor, and act on future trends is increasingly important. The most successful organizations over the next decade will be those that accurately predict trends, track their development, and implement meaningful strategies at exactly the right time. 

But as trend tracking becomes ever more important, trends and insights teams in organizations across many industries face a wide range of challenges. Many have the capacity to predict trends, but face barriers when it comes to activating insights, tracking trends as they unfold, and reporting progress in a meaningful way across the organization. 

Fortunately, developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) mean that a brighter future is on the horizon for insights professionals. By applying new technologies with skilled analyst resources, organizations are now able to closely track trends and produce highly actionable intelligence that drives a meaningful impact for organizational performance. 

The Importance of Trend Tracking

Trend tracking has always been important to organizations, but this has become increasingly prevalent in the current age of disruption. The past ten or fifteen years has seen dramatic disruptions occur in many industries, and every organization is eager to ensure they don’t get caught unaware by an unseen competitor or a sudden shift in customer demands. 

To stay a step ahead of coming disruptions, organizations preparing for future disruptions are allocating increasing resources towards their intelligence, insights, and foresights functions. Leaders want to know the size of future trends, when they’re predicted to occur, and which areas of their business will be most impacted. To bolster internal resources, organizations frequently invest in initiatives like prediction market research or partner with futurist consultants to help dimensionalize future trends. These efforts help teams compile a summary of future trends that could impact the organization. 

But all too often, organizations face challenges translating these predictions into action and devising an approach to proactively monitor and track the development of trends as they emerge.

Unpacking the Challenges Faced by Insights Teams

The modern insights teams support a long list of different functions across the organization, from concept testing, ad testing, and package testing to product tracking, brand tracking and market trends with additional ad hoc support needed for marketing and communications teams and corporate strategy groups. With so many stakeholders and demands on their time, insights professionals spend the majority of their time keeping up with their day-to-day tasks. 

While this is important work, insights teams are often left with a lack of time, resources or the skills needed to consistently track trends, particularly longer-term developments that unfold slowly but have the potential to be highly impactful. Insights professionals already spend their days sifting through a mountain of data, turning raw data into actionable intelligence, and meeting business partners from across the organization. With resources stretched thin, finding the time to track the emergence of new trends is very challenging.

Without the right support, from both people and technology, it’s impossible for insights teams to effectively monitor all the relevant trends and share them in a way that’s meaningful to a network of stakeholders across the organization.  Fortunately, developments in trend tracking technology are now enabling insights professionals to unlock improved levels of efficiency. 

A Brighter Future: The Impact of Technology on Trend Tracking

The technological developments in AI, ML, and NLP over the past few years foreshadow significant improvements to the strategies and techniques that organizations use to track important trends. 

First off, the way that organizations identify and prioritize trends is improving. Innovations like HUNUUⓇ Futures prediction market research enable organizations to more accurately time, size and prioritize various different trends. 

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HUUNU Futures forecasts future developments in plant-based protein market

Organizations can also benefit by translating the insights driven by this type of research into more tangible timing and impact projections. Unlike many other prediction tools, HUUNU Futures enables the prediction of outcomes in a quantifiable sense. This means that organizations can translate their hypotheses on trends into well-understood models like the diffusion of innovation curve, or the hype cycle. Models such as these ensure that the insights function presents their findings in a manner that’s easy for management to understand, unlocking better internal alignment around trend timing and impact.

But beyond that, it’s important to have a systematic approach to tracking trend development on a continuous basis. Until recently, that’s been very difficult for organizations to accomplish.

However, there are now advanced tools in the market and competitive intelligence (M/CI) world that enable organizations to employ sophisticated AI and ML technologies to more effectively track trends as they develop. Insights functions inside all kinds of organizations can now create powerful dashboards, incorporate real-time data in their reporting, and automate many of the time-consuming elements of this work.

Using Knowledge360Ⓡ for Trend Intelligence

Many organizations are employing powerful tools like Knowledge360 to support their trend intelligence and tracking efforts. In any M/CI platform, the ability to aggregate, curate, and distribute information is table stakes, but more advanced platforms like Knowledge360 have powerful customization features that enable organizations to tailor the platform to their own needs. 

With these tools, organizations can create powerful dashboards to track trends, market movements, or individual competitors. Insights teams can import custom data fields from primary sources and incorporate a pipeline of pre-bundled data from a wide variety of secondary sources. Knowledge360 also empowers organizations to create custom taxonomies and reporting structures, and even supports integrations with external data visualization tools like Tableau and PowerBI

By leveraging the power of AI to source, analyze, and display information from trusted sources, insights professionals unlock more time to spend on value-add activities, including crafting the narrative around consumer trends and building relationships across the organization. 

The emergence of powerful tools like Knowledge360 enables insights functions to create custom trend intelligence, monitor highly important trends in real-time, and ensure that their organizations are positioned to perfectly time-evolving trends and customer demands. 


The Role of Intelligence as a Service

Due to recent economic pressure, this level of insight and trend tracking is unattainable for many companies without support from an external partner, even with innovative technology in place. 

To enable customized trend intelligence to become a reality, it’s often best for organizations to partner with an external partner who can provide intelligence as a service. Intelligence service providers, like Cipher, shorten the learning curve by providing the technology platform and skill sets required to provide organizations with:

  • Filtered daily news emails and alerts
  • Periodic trend development summaries, written by humans
  • Creating and maintaining category, brand, and customer dashboards
  • Identifying and tracking important trend signals
  • Creating local and regional market warnings
  • Incorporating inbound sales and field intelligence into dashboards

Partnering with an experienced provider with a proven track record for delivering high-value analysis and technology solutions is a sure-fire way for insights functions to economically and reliably monitor important trends as they unfold. Armed with detailed insights, leaders can allocate resources more effectively and position their organizations to capitalize on trends at exactly the right moment.

Providing organizational leadership with the insight they need to capitalize on meaningful market opportunities showcases the internal value of the insights function. By demonstrating this high ROI, insights teams can unlock larger budgets and more resources, and continue to deliver ever more insightful intelligence to their organizations.

To learn more about Knowledge360 or Cipher’s intelligence as a service solutions, get in touch with our team today