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Observing trends and planning for change in your industry

When looking at a growth strategy for your company, where do you look for direction? Are you looking at your company? Your market? Your industry? Do you know what drives change in consumer spending? What about change in your industry? Where is your industry headed? How do you know?

Observing trends in all three – your company, your market and your industry can help predict where things are going and help you to predict what actions and investments your company will need to make in order to grow and be successful in the future.

If you have been paying attention to trends in the IT industry, one of the latest trends in consumer technology has been wearable tech, from the fitness gear that is becoming somewhat mainstream that tracks your fitness goals, to the more practical watches and headsets, such as Samsung’s Gear lineup, to the tech fringe gloves, glasses, clothing and sport accessories. Additionally, companies are selling components to aid others in the development of unique wearable items to the degree that you may not always know when someone is wearing something.

An article in Wired Magazine that discuses the future of wearable tech indicates that this is only the beginning. As we have most recently experienced with mobile phones, tablets and computers (if you are that old), you could probably predict that the wearable tech industry has a long way to go and a lot of potential, some of which has not even been envisioned by the general population.

But where did it come from? How did it start? What made someone think that people would want to be that connected to their technology?

Mashable offers an article that discusses the earliest days of wearable tech actually may have started in the 1960’s, worn by gamblers who were attempting to gain advantage over casinos to count cards and predict outcomes at roulette tables. Take a look at the timeline author Max Knoblauch put together that brings us from the early days to the 2014 – “The Year of the Wearable.”

If you look carefully at the timeline, you’ll notice that innovations in the wearable tech arena initially had (on average) 8 new introductions between 1961 and 2000. Then beginning in 2000, the innovations came more closely together, with 1-2 years between major innovations, and those innovations became more mainstream. Sure everyone had a computer calculator back in the 70’s, but who had  a computer backpack and there was a very limited market for digital hearing aids, despite their potential practical usage.

2000’s Bluetooth headset, however, launched wearable tech as a consumer industry. It seemed as though everyone wanted one, used one and you could see the flashing blue light on or around everyone’s ear. By the mid-2000’s, if you didn’t have one, you at least recognized it on someone else, and perhaps it became such that seeing someone talking into the air no longer made them appear to be crazy, mentally diminished or whatever your preferred terminology is.

What is significant here? The significance is that industries, like products, go through lifecycles. Anyone that is still attempting to sell the original computer backpack is probably going to start; those that are selling components and new twists on wearable tech are going to help shape the market for wearable tech. In the same way, you’ve probably seen changes in the way things are done in your every day travels, such as televisions, cars, restaurants, shopping, etc.; you have seen companies that have successfully embraced newer trends and those that have simply tried to exist doing the same thing that they have done for the past 20 years.

The question becomes: where is your industry? Where is it going? Can you predict its future? Can you help shape its future? Will you be part of the boom or an outsider watching it happen?

Rick Meekins is the Managing Consultant at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations. We are the trusted advisor for business leaders who are seeking forward-thinking solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth. Our entrepreneurial multidisciplinary team works with clients to develop differentiating solutions and provide direction focused on lasting, strategic results.  We exist to help our clients CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD extraordinary businesses.

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