Trend watching and people watching: the new tech frontier

27 Aug 2008

Keeping an eye on societal trends and social issues will be key to future CRM investments, as firms embrace people watching as key to success.

According to Gartner, by the end of 2010, 15pc of European and US businesses will have formalised societal trend watching as a corporate discipline.

“A connected enterprise must understand the connected society in which it resides,” said Scott Nelson, managing vice-president at Gartner.

“Most firms wait until societal trends have overwhelmed them before they try to react. Slowness to respond can cost firms incredibly large sums of money and may drive them out of business all together.

“Businesses will require anthropological and psychological input into system development to ensure that entire systems consisting of technology and people are viable and to help evaluate how changes in employees’ and customers’ lifestyles will affect business,” Nelson said.

Adding technology to the natural human desire to communicate enables individuals to participate in more, richer, faster and denser social networks.

Some are enabled by basic Internet infrastructure such as e-mail and instant messaging, while others by more specialist tools or sites, such as FriendFeed, Twitter, Ryze or Orkut. Such networks form an increasing proportion of the trusted information sources that individuals use to make decisions.

“In activities such as marketing, it is valuable to find and spend effort on several key influencers that are trusted information sources used by other network participants. Enterprises should work the network and find out where their customers and potential employees are making decisions,” Nelson explained.

“As many of these networks are implemented using well-understood technical standards, they can be probed and analysed, opening up opportunities for a new generation of social network analysis and simulation tools,” he added.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years