In an era of rapid technological change it can be comforting to reflect that basic human needs remain fairly constant.
With some updates over the years, Abraham Maslow's famous hierarchy still holds good some 75 years on since first inception. Beyond our basic physiological needs and our need for safety, we seek to satisfy the increasingly higher order needs for belonging, self esteem, meaning, beauty, self-actualisation and transcendence.
What changes is how these needs can be satisfied, driven by changes in our external environment, whether societal, economic or technological.
An avalanche of new technologies is currently driving unprecedented potential to unlock novel ways of addressing peoples' fundamental and not so fundamental human needs.
Trend forecasters, futurists and innovators take a forensic approach to examining and interpreting the meaning behind each new innovation, unbundling the component elements in order to gain specific insights and inspiration for ideation, leading to novel recombination of these elements in unrelated arenas. As these pollinate across industries, trends emerge.
In our highly connected world, awareness of new innovations spreads rapidly across markets and geographies, driving “expectation transfer” that fuels the trend. So it is imperative that your organisation has well developed antennae to tap into these trends through connections into the innovation ecosystem. Having the capability to join the dots before your competitors is vital.
A critical capability within an innovators DNA is to be able to interrogate and identify the nascent trends arising from innovation at the edge; understand the new expectations these are creating for customers; and apply these to better serving the needs of your customers.
It doesn't matter if the innovation is well outside your industry and it doesn't necessarily matter if the innovation ultimately fails to gain mass market traction. Once customer expectation has been ignited, your ability to apply this trend intelligence, and your capability to translate this into innovative offerings that meet these new expectations is what drives success.
Innovating requires identifying the problems that matter and moving through them systematically to deliver elegant solutions. And what customers perceive as elegant is informed by their expectations and driven by design.