With new technologies emerging every day, staying on top of the latest trends is critical for business development. Today, businesses have two choices: either keep abreast of technology in their respective industry or lose out to competitors that are offering better, newer solutions for customers. Those that fall behind risk losing new business opportunities as well as existing customers.
Staying current with the latest advances will prepare your business for changing customer demands. It will also increase your relevancy within your industry, ultimately setting you apart from the competition. What’s more, it can also help you attract and retain top talent.
As a business development veteran, I’ve established the following practices over the years that have helped me remain at the forefront of technology trends.
There are a variety of resources available to help teams identify industry insights and tech trends. Take advantage of conferences and trade shows to get a sense of the offerings and advances from other players in the industry. I always gather valuable intel from walking the trade show floor and attending speaker sessions.
This is also a great opportunity to identify what tech is performing well and what is not working in your industry. Be smart about the events you choose to attend — start with research. Review the show’s agenda before signing up to see if the topics align with your business objectives. Check out the list of speakers to see if they are experts in the field who can share the latest trends and resources in your industry.
Schedules are hectic, but it’s important to set aside time to catch up on industry insights and/or research from industry leaders on the latest tech advances. Every industry has a host of newsletters available from different sources. Consider sifting through what’s available to find the one that best suits you and your business target.
I also tune into podcasts because they are so readily available. Research to find out what’s popular in the industry and try some out. Look for one or two that help expand your line of thinking as it relates to your business and subscribe to those. Listen on the way to work, while working out or cooking dinner. By trend watching and forecasting, you are better equipped to develop solutions for customers that help make business easier for them.
Building strong customer and industry relationships is critical not only for business growth but also for obtaining new insights. Once you’ve put the time in to develop solid relationships, reach out to your contacts to tap into their wealth of knowledge.
Don’t be shy when it comes to asking customers about their current challenges as well as future needs in terms of tech. This can help you gain insight into trends overall, allowing you to start developing business solutions to grow and better serve customers. The key is to make it easy for customers to share input, so set aside a few minutes on status calls or during in-person meetings.
Set up coffee meetings or grab some time at industry events to connect with business leaders — not necessarily competitors — but other service providers to glean insights into what they are seeing in terms of the latest tech trends. If you don’t have a network, look for like-minded professionals to connect with via LinkedIn and invite them to meet in person at industry events. These events are made for networking so take full advantage of them. Once you’ve secured meetings, be sure to trade information so it’s not just a one-way street. This will help you maintain an open and honest relationship with like-minded professionals.
Lastly, talk to vendors to discern what’s on the horizon in the tech industry. Ask what they’re hearing on the front lines as they deal with other customers and tech dev folks.
Don’t miss out.
If your business is not actively monitoring trends to develop cutting-edge solutions, someone else is going to beat you to it. Don’t get left behind. The competitive advantage goes to the first company that can offer comprehensive solutions that work seamlessly for customers.