A common pattern I tend to see within organisations, is a tendency to use what their digital platform's offering currently delivers, combined with what their competitor's website currently provides, as the foundation of their upcoming digital strategy.   On reflection, it's obvious why this process inherently has flaws, as no matter how hard an organisation tries, they will always be behind the technology curve.

As website implementors, I think we have a difficult responsibility, we need to advise companies on the latest trends to help them get a competitive advantage over their competitors in their market, while avoiding implementing technology that falls flat on it's face and never gets adopted.  Bad technology choices result in delayed deadlines and lost revenues, which is lose-lose for everyone involved.

This isn't a new point, we all know that innovation cannot be driven by following the herd.  Instead, following what the big trendsetters like Microsoft, or Google are investing millions in and then quietly follow closely behind them can give you a big advantage over your competitors. Early adoption is risky and sometimes you might fail on this journey, but I think ignoring trends is riskier.  The best way to create opportunities is to provide something your competitors can't. You need to dictate what's cutting edge in your industry, if you don't, you'll end up playing catch-up.  Play catch-up long enough and you could face corporate extinction. In CMS planning, for example, a lot of people tend to wait until a feature has been released before they start thinking about how a business can use it.  Instead, if that same company based their strategy on what the platform's developers are currently working on, by the time the new features becomes available, the business already has all the user journeys, designs and budgets approved to start development immediately.   By simple trend watching, you can have months or even years' worth of competitive advantage over your competitors.

In Adobes 2015 Digital Trends report, personalisation was ranked as the 8th most important factor.  In 2016 personalised content is now the number one trend.  The trend setting companies would have started working on personalisation a year ago, they had enough notice.  Companies who only react to the latest fad will always be second fiddle to the innovators.

You might be reading this and thinking, following the trends is easy to say.  My company needs to implement x, or, rebuild y before we can start thinking about trends; all I can say is, really?  It's this line of thinking that has likely got you into your current dilemma.

This post is the first of a monthly series that's aim is to shine the digital spotlight on upcoming trends to help developers, marketers, business analytics, innovators and business people get a head start in their digital strategy.  Every month I'll highlight new technologies, trends and ideas that hopefully you can leverage to improve your strategy.