• Business
  • How to avoid tech fads and embrace rising trends

How to avoid tech fads and embrace rising trends

  • Last Updated : June 12, 2023
  • 4 Min Read
An Asian man looking at a vending machine, trying to choose a product to purchase

Today is the slowest day in technology for the rest of your life. Let that sink in.

The tech industry is constantly changing and new solutions are evolving all the time. Unless businesses learn to flow with the technological tide, they risk being swept away by it.

Every year, a global research company called Gartner Inc. predicts up to 10 trends for the year. However, only some take off. Take a look at the last 3 years' worth of trends Gartner said would be a big win.

YearSuccessful predictionsOther predictions
2018immersive experience • intelligent apps and analytics • intelligent things • AI foundation • cloud to the edgedigital twins • blockchain • event driven • conversational platforms • continuous adaptive risk and trust
2019augmented analytics • autonomous things • immersive technologies • empowered edge • AI-driven developmentblockchain • digital twins • smart spaces • digital ethics and privacy • quantum computing
2020multi experience • transparency and traceability • the empowered edge • AI security • autonomous thingshyper automation • practical blockchain • human augmentation • the distributed cloud • democratisation

There's a lot to unpack from this information. Some of these trends:

  • Never took off, but sustained throughout the decade

  • Evolved into bigger concepts

  • Got new names but their underlying concepts stayed the same

  • Became more pronounced in the last few years

For instance, AI-related technology such as intelligent analytics, AI security, and AI-driven tech development gained popularity year over year, so it has been a constantly-trending topic. On the other hand, blockchain has been a strong contender, but it's remained passive throughout the last three years. Most of the talk around it has been associated with cryptocurrency and not other use cases.

A few other trends lost or gained popularity over the years. For instance, "digital twins," although predicted as popular for two consecutive years, didn't make it to the 2020 list. Conversely, "autonomous things," a successful trend both in 2019 and 2020, wasn't on the list in 2018.

So why do some trends work and others don't?

"Successful programs are not built on fads, they're built on trends."

The Law of Acceleration or Law #21, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by AL Ries and Jack Trout.

Fads are short-lived—they pop up overnight, shine brightly, and fade away just as quickly as they came. We often cling to these fads hoping they will become trends. But trends are more subtle. They grow steadily and slowly over time until they hit their peak.

To understand how trends evolve, just look at how popular a topic has become over a period of time. For instance, here's the number of times "software" was mentioned in scholarly books and materials.

"A screenshot of a search result for the word software on Google Books Ngram Viewer. Image shows an upward rising graph in the 1960s, reaching its peak in the 2000s and falling downwards since then. It's an indication that the word software was most popular in books in the 2000s and is now losing its novelty."

Compare that with the word "trains." Trains were most popular in the 1900s, but people don't talk about them as much anymore.

"A screenshot of a search result for the word trains on Google Books Ngram Viewer. Image shows an upward rising graph in the 1800s, reaching its peak in the early 1900s and falling since then. It's an indication that the word trains was most popular in books in the 1900s and is now too common to be a trend."

"AI," on the other hand, is a rapidly growing trend. It still hasn't reached its peak because we're still discovering new possibilities with artificial intelligence and how best to use it in everyday life and business. 80 to 100 years from now, we won't have as many books and analyses that mention AI because it'll be dinner table conversation by then (if we still have dinner table discussions).

"A screenshot of a search result for the word AI on Google Books Ngram Viewer. Image shows a slowly rising graph"

The common pattern among these examples is that they didn't magically appear overnight. They've been growing steadily towards their peak. That's how trends are made—over time.

When the telegraph first became a medium of communication, Aachen and Brussels were the only cities that weren't connected because of geographical limitations. These cities remained disconnected until Paul Reuter, in 1850, used homing pigeons to deliver messages between Aachen and Brussels to complete the communication channel. This meant that people could then communicate from the east of Aachen to the west of Brussels for the first time.

Reuter didn't invent anything. He used the elements around him to create a solution that was revolutionary to the rest of the world. Pigeons can transport things from one place to another. That wasn't a fad. It was a trend that Reuter rode on.

Like Reuter, when you need technology, look at trends that have been around for a while and how you can use them to your advantage.

Here's how you can avoid the fads.

  • Don't look for a shiny breakthrough every time.
    You might only need a good bridge between past and future technologies. An old project can have new use cases if you keep an open mind.

  • Don't rush into pioneering technological products.
    Look at what you already have and use that to propel yourself forward. When you need specific technology, consider existing solutions in your organisation before looking for a new one. Let's say your sales team needs a task management tool. Your marketing team may already have one that works well for them. You can reuse their system and customise it to fit your needs.

  • Don't always try to be revolutionary.
    Replace old methods and processes with new ones that are just as good. If your approval process takes twice as long as it should, you don't necessarily have to replace it with a brand-new system. Sometimes, doing so won't even solve the problem effectively. Instead, you could schedule an extra reminder into your existing system so that the approval process flows more automatically.

Whether you're looking for software for your business or trying to build something new altogether, remember that fads are waves—short-lived and fun. Trends are tides—pronounced and more powerful. You can enjoy waves as they come, but to ride the tide, you have to be prepared and open-minded.

Read next: How to choose a business toolkit that won't make you pay

Related Topics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

The comment language code.
By submitting this form, you agree to the processing of personal data according to our Privacy Policy.

You may also like