Want to Know the Future of Your Business? Digital Trends and Analytics Provide Critical Insights
Posted by Jennifer Wolfe on 28th July 2014 in 360 Blog

We live in a digital age and the insights to your business come from understanding two critical data points:

1. Intellectual Property Predicts the Future. What intellectual property are your competitors and suppliers to your industry filing. Why is that important? In today’s fast paced world, if a company thinks they have developed something of value, they will seek to protect it through patents, trademarks or copyrights. Because we live in a first to file patent system, and an intent to use trademark system, companies now rush to file patents or trademarks on what they believe could have value. This is insightful information into where industries that impact your business are headed. In a world where suppliers of today become competitors of tomorrow, you can’t afford to ignore these trends.

2. Digital Use of Words Matter. What words people use online impacts your business. Every company is digital. And how your brand and keywords associated with your brand are used online can tell you a lot about what’s happening to your company and what you should be doing for your customers.

Monitoring these two critical data points can guide you to the future of your business. Intellectual Property predicts the future, but today the future comes a lot faster. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell filed a patent on the telephone. It took 50 years for there to be 3 million telephones. Orville and Wilbur Wright invented the airplane in 1906. By 1958, 38 million people flew per year at prices of around $600 -800 in the continental US and $3,000 to Europe. Today that number is 2.3 billion people flying each year. In 1868, the Glidden & Soule Typewriter first edition sold only 5,000 units. But fast forward to 1984 and the first Macintosh computer sold more than 2 million in the first year. The first iMac was introduced in 1998 and sold 800,000 in the first 139 days on the market and sold 3.8 million in 2012. The iPod was introduced in 2001 and within 2 years had sold 1 million units. IPad sold 300,000 in the first day and has since sold 100 million. A slight acceleration in adoption?

The DVD reached one million sales in 18 months, but it took 15 years for cable television and four years for the VCR to reach the same mark. In 1950 there were 67, 265 utility patents and 6,730 design patents. In 2012 there were 542,825 utility patents and 32,799 design patents.

Google has 3,551 patents. Microsoft owns 24,565 and has control over 50,786 patents. Facebook has 161 patents. Apple has 7,246. There are also a few unlikely patent holder including NBC Universal, Disney, NY Times, and Martha Stewart.

Mapping these patents can predict where companies are investing in future technology and where they see the future of business. For example, if you currently studied any of the big tech companies you would realize they are investing in content and content delivery at an accelerating pace. It’s not about the patent or whether it’s enforceable, it’s about the strategic thinking behind it. Likewise, unique trademarks can predict what may become iconic or powerful brands. Keeping track of filings for designs, colors, sounds, and smells can give you a leg up. Understanding and using IP intelligence can help you identify important trends.

Digital Use of Words Matter.

Every company is digital and how words are used in the digital world provides key trend indicators to your business. The Digital Revolution began nearly ten years ago, but the pace of change is accelerating. Consider a few interesting facts:

Social media is the #1 activity on the web.
1 in 5 couples meet online
56% of HR professionals use social networking websites to source potential candidates
14.4 million people used social media last year to find a new job
In 60 seconds on the internet graphic – now more than ever innovation is happening faster all over the internet – if you don’t own it – someone else will
Over 165 million twitter users – 55% access via mobile – 50 million tweets per day
Facebook is the third largest country in the world with 1 billion users
Each day 20% of google searches have never been searched before
You Tube is the second largest search engine in the world
What happens in Vegas stays on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, flickr, you tube
The Ford Explorer Launch on Facebook generated more traffic than a super bowl ad
Gen Y and Z consider email passé
Some universities have stopped distributing email accounts
Social gamers will buy $6 billion in virtual goods by 2013
Movie goers will buy only 2.5 billion in real goods
75% use virtual currency
Most people watch TV with two or more devices
In 10 years over 40% of the Fortune 500 will no longer be here
77% of consumers interact with brands via Facebook
53% of users recommend products in their tweets
90% of consumers trust peer recommendations
14% of consumer trust advertisements
What’s happening online is now critical to your business and a key piece of digital intelligence. The return on investment of understanding digital intelligence is your business will still exist in 5 years. Sometimes we spend so much time responding to everything, we forget the goal is to use all of that information and data to drive our strategic decisions. You may not view yourself as a technology or innovative company but if you aren’t innovative, you are slowly on the road to nowhere. Remember these companies:

EF Hutton
KB Toys
Tower Records
They are all out of business. It’s not just social or mobile, games, or monitoring twitter feeds. It’s deeply understanding key drivers of your industry and being prepared for new directions. Monitoring the IP of your competitors and digital leaders might surprise you. Monitoring the key words or brands across the web based upon traffic – meaning where users are going – might surprise you.

And, it just might give you the answer you need to keep your strategy on track and ahead of the curve. Strategic plans used to be 5 years out, now they can be 3 years at most, requiring constant updating and revision to respond to changing marketplace demands and new technologies. Tap into industry insights by analyzing data that is available. Understand the past and chart trends to know the future. Who is in your space – who is moving in your space – what should you do about it? It’s not about the patents or the web sites – it’s about what that data tells you. Algorithms and technology make tracking this information affordable and manageable, but data in a vacuum is meaningless.