Hard Trends: Easier to Identify Than You Think

Hard Trends: Easier to Identify Than You Think

Daniel Burrus 07/05/2020 2
Hard Trends: Easier to Identify Than You Think

A well-worn cliché says there are only two things you can be certain about: death and taxes.

With apologies to those who agree with that statement, there are many, many more examples of out-and-out certainties. Was Sunday followed by Monday last week? Absolutely. Will that be the case next week? You can count on it.

A more timely and, in some ways, comforting example involves the ever-changing situation we find ourselves in today with COVID-19. This pandemic has seemingly pressed pause on time, stifling businesses in many ways and rattling humankind as we’re told that each day is fluid, and we’re not sure what the next day will bring. Monday will still follow Sunday, but will it be business as usual? Right now, the answer is no.

But, if Hard Trends, or future certainties, are as easy to identify as I maintain, what is the Hard Trend in all of this? It’s as obvious as my days-of-the-week anecdote above: This virus will end, and that is a  fact that will happen. Because of this, you better believe that, aside from the length of the coronavirus’s impact, there are still Hard Trends in every industry, plus plenty of opportunity in the disruption that is this global pandemic.

In order to be able to identify Hard Trends during these unprecedented times, we must diagnose the very concept of Hard Trends and how they can lead to significant game-changing opportunities for you and your organization.

What’s a Hard Trend?

As previously stated, a Hard Trend is a future certainty, in that it is something we know is going to occur whether we want it to or not. Opposite of Hard Trends are Soft Trends, which are future possibilities that may or may not take place. In the case of Soft Trends, these can be changed to your, and your organization’s, benefit. 

To further explore my Hard Trend Methodology and how it can help you be more anticipatory during times like we currently face, I have grouped Hard Trends into three primary categories for identification purposes.

Demographics. This can be age, race, gender, or any other defining characteristic of a group. During this pandemic, an example is an older generation like the Baby Boomers. The fact that they are more susceptible to COVID-19 is a definite Hard Trend.

Government Regulations and Oversight. For this category, a broad question immediately comes to mind: As a general rule, will there be more or less government regulation in the future? If we’ve learned anything from the coronavirus pandemic, it is that there will definitely be more. As new innovations emerge amid the lockdown, new governmental regulations will evolve in response to them. This is true, regardless of the industry or organization, making this a Hard Trend.

Technology. From the ever-increasing accessibility of 3D printing to holographic telepresence, technology is inevitably going to become more functional, more sophisticated and more widespread. In addition to how we have learned to use already-existing technology during the pandemic, this makes technology in any capacity a Hard Trend; we will always be finding a newer, better way to accomplish a task or create something.

Why Hard Trends Matter?

Knowing that something is a future certainty means so much more in times like these. It’s central to your organization’s planning and subsequent execution of innovation, even during an economic shutdown.

In terms of government regulation, coupled with the ever-changing spectrum of this pandemic and subsequent lockdown, being aware of the Hard Trend of growing government regulation allows you to become more anticipatory with those additional guidelines foremost in your mind, allowing you as an organization to continue to progress and grow.

Leveraging Hard Trends to your advantage is how you can also pre-solve problems before they exist. Case in point: When the United States government mandated a stay-at-home order, closing the physical operations of many nonessential businesses, many threw up their hands in frustration, while others decided to adapt and overcome, taking advantage of opportunities to continue to operate during a shutdown—and profited accordingly.

What you can expect is that Hard Trends—identified and acted upon—can offer enormous opportunities for those organizations with the mindset of always keeping their eyes open to the future.

Is your organization identifying and acting on the visible Hard Trend certainties in your industry during COVID-19? Better yet, are you learning how to be an anticipatory leader in all of this?

If you need help, learn how to do so with the Anticipatory Leader Learning System. You can also order my book, The Anticipatory Organization, at Amazon.com right now.

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  • Wayne Hewitt

    Excellent article

  • Chris Taylor

    Good stuff

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Daniel Burrus

Innovation Expert

Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker. He is a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies, helping them to accelerate innovation and results by develop game-changing strategies based on his proven methodologies for capitalizing on technology innovations and their future impact. His client list includes companies such as Microsoft, GE, American Express, Google, Deloitte, Procter & Gamble, Honda, and IBM. He is the author of seven books, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller Flash Foresight, and his latest book The Anticipatory Organization. He is a featured writer with millions of monthly readers on the topics of innovation, change and the future and has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Wired, CNBC, and Huffington Post to name a few. He has been the featured subject of several PBS television specials and has appeared on programs such as CNN, Fox Business, and Bloomberg, and is quoted in a variety of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Fortune, and Forbes. He has founded six businesses, four of which were national leaders in the United States in the first year. He is the CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients profit from technological, social and business forces that are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. In 1983 he became the first and only futurist to accurately identify the twenty technologies that would become the driving force of business and economic change for decades to come. He also linked exponential computing advances to economic value creation. His specialties are technology-driven trends, strategic innovation, strategic advising and planning, business keynote presentations.

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