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Following trends is good. Acting on the right ones is far better.

by Don Scheibenreif  |  September 16, 2016  |  2 Comments

How do you stay on top of macro trends? What is relevant and what isn’t? Which ones do you track, act on,  or ignore?

This is the challenge facing many of our enterprise architect and technology innovation leader clients who are charged with maintaining a proactive hunt for external drivers and opportunities that will impact their markets and organizations. Macro changes to the economy and society, often driven by technology, warrant continued attention. Regular trend scans are one way to do this. Moreover, while enterprise architecture practitioners need to be fluent in a variety of trends, value lies in being able to translate the trends to actions for their enterprises.

To help our clients, I recently published Top Business and Sociocultural Macro Trends Enterprise Architects Need to Follow Now, a collection of six business and societal macro trends that organizations can use for strategic planning, trend scans and other future-oriented activities. It is a complement to Gartner’s work on strategic and emerging technology trends (“Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2016”) and technology maturity (“Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2016”).

In this research I highlight these macro trends:

  • Demographic Tremors — How changing demographics will influence economic growth.
  • The Big City — How the population shift to urban areas will create challenges and opportunities for public-sector and private-sector organizations.
  • The Power of Me — How technology is empowering individuals and small groups of people to take more control of their economic future.
  • The Battle of the Business Models — How digital business is changing the nature of competition and business itself.
  • The Human Enterprise — How there must be a balance between technology and humans in a digital workplace.
  • Economic Shift to Asia/Pacific — How world economic influence will shift from the West to Asia/Pacific.

The sociocultural and business and economic macro trends we selected drew more heavily on external data and perspectives. We selected ones that were global in their impact, broadly relevant  and interacted with other global trends.  The trends, when combined with Gartner’s unique view of the technology landscape, have high potential business impact and are ones that will matter to IT leaders. More important, we offer advice on tangible actions that can be taken today. The trends are presented with a set of key facts, business implications, technology implications, and strategic planning considerations for enterprise architects and technology innovation leaders.

The trend information from this report can be used in the first phase of Gartner’s Disruptive Trend Framework ( “How Vanguard Enterprise Architects Lead Technology Innovation” and “Toolkit: How to Create Business Scenarios That Drive Digital Disruption Innovation” ). A companion slide deck to this report can help enterprise architects present and discuss the trends in a workshop-style format (“Toolkit: How EA Can Lead Impact Assessment of Top Business and Sociocultural Macro Trends” ). Enterprise architects can combine this information with any other trend information they may have to explore ideas on how these trends will impact the enterprise.

Don’t fall in to the trap of “trend admiring.”  Take action on the right ones that are the most important to your organization.

Category: enterprise-architecture  technology-innovation  trends-predictions  

Don Scheibenreif
Vice President and Distinguished Analyst
5 years at Gartner
5 years IT Industry

Don Scheibenreif is a Vice President and Distinguished Analyst with Gartner's Enterprise Architecture and Technology Innovation research group. He works with with enterprise architects and other IT leaders on how emerging trends and digital business will impact enterprise architecture and enterprise digital transformation. Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Following trends is good. Acting on the right ones is far better.


  1. Robert Cocks says:

    Not surprising to read another smart and useful note from Don Scheibenreif. As always, good stuff.



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