Innovation trend analysis at the macro level involves collecting and analysing data on various factors that impact business growth strategy.

We consolidated 40+ useful resources to help uncovering the future growth.

Macro PESTLE Landscape Research

PESTLE research is a framework used to identify how external factors – political, economic, sociocultural, technological, legal, and environmental could impact a business or a project. Tools often used for this research include online databases, government publications, industry reports, and news articles.

Through these macro landscape research, we aim to identify PESTLE trends. These are changes in consumer preferences, behaviours, societal norms and trends that can impact businesses growth opportunities. It covers macro research in political dynamics, economic and trading information, as well as any social & environmental policy changes etc.

Technology innovation trend also played a critical role in tomorrow’s business. Innovation team need to identify new and upcoming technologies that might disrupt a business or industry. Tools often used include tech industry reports, patent databases, technology-focused publications, which provides insights on the maturity and adoption of technologies.

Below are some useful resources for trends and business innovation trend analysis. While some of the data sources are similar, we categorise them into roughly 3 main categories – Quantitative Numbers Crunching, Qualitative Trend Spotting, Patents & Academic Research.

Quantitative Numbers Crunching

  1. YouGov: An international research data and analytics group, providing a broad range of data-driven solutions and custom research services. YouGov
  2. World Bank Open Data: Provides free and open access to global development data. World Bank
  3. FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data): A database of over 760,000 economic time series from 96 sources. FRED
  4. Pew Research Center: Offers comprehensive research on a wide range of topics. Pew Research Center
  5. Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC): APEC is a regional economic forum established to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific region. It provides useful resources on economic trends and policies in the region. APEC
  6. Asian Development Bank (ADB): ADB provides comprehensive data and analysis on development issues and economic trends in the Asia Pacific region. ADB
  7. China National Bureau of Statistics: This is the central authority for statistical information and data in China. It provides comprehensive national economic data. China National Bureau of Statistics
  8. OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development): Provides data and analysis on a wide range of economic and social issues. OECD
  9. IBISWorld: Offers industry research reports and analysis on over 700 industries. IBISWorld
  10. Statista: An online statistics portal providing data on over 80,000 topics from more than 22,500 sources. Statista
  11. Trading Economics – China: Trading Economics provides historical data, forecasts, and news for a wide range of economic indicators. The China section provides information related to China’s economy. Trading Economics – China
  12. Euromonitor: Provides comprehensive data and insights on industries, economies, and consumers worldwide. Euromonitor
  13. Kantar: A data, insights and consulting company that provides various reports and insights on consumer trends, media trends, and market trends across different cultures and geographies. Kantar
  14. Ipsos: A global research and insights organisation, providing strategic insights to companies around the world. Ipsos
  15. Mintel: Provides market research, market analysis, and consumer opinions. Mintel
  16. Global Reporting Initiative (GRI): Sets standards for sustainability reporting. Provides resources and reports on ESG performance. GRI
  17. United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Offers a framework for sustainable development and provides data and reports on progress. SDGs
quantitative innovation trend analysis

Qualitative Trend Spotting

  1. TED Talks: An excellent resource for insights on the latest trends and innovations across various fields, including technology, design, and the social sciences. TED Talks
  2. TechCrunch: A leading technology media property, dedicated to obsessively profiling startups, reviewing new Internet products, and breaking tech news. TechCrunch
  3. Google Trends: A free tool from Google that provides data and graphs on the popularity of specific search terms over time. It can be particularly useful for identifying cultural trends based on what people are searching for. Google Trends
  4. TrendWatching: An independent consumer trends firm, providing insights into emerging consumer trends that can inspire profitable innovation. TrendWatching
  5. WGSN: A trend forecasting company, offering market-leading trend forecasting for fashion and the creative industries, design validation and big data retail analytics. WGSN
  6. Pantone: Renowned for its colour matching system and yearly ‘Colour of the Year’, Pantone provides insights into colour trends across industries. Pantone
  7. Design Week: An online magazine covering the latest news, trends and happenings in the design world, from graphics to interiors. Design Week
  8. Artsy: A platform for collecting and discovering art, Artsy provides insights into emerging artists and art trends. Artsy
  9. Dezeen: A leading online architecture and design magazine, Dezeen showcases the latest design projects and trends worldwide. Dezeen
  10. Cool Hunting: An online publication that uncovers the latest in design, technology, style, travel, art and culture. Cool Hunting
  11. Stylus: A trend forecasting and innovation research service that provides reports on various industries. Stylus
  12. Lifehacker: A blog about life hacks and software that can help you to be more productive. Lifehacker
  13. Wired: A magazine that focuses on how emerging technologies affect culture, the economy, and politics. Wired
  14. Fast Company: A magazine that focuses on technology, business, and design. Fast Company
  15. The Verge: Covers the intersection of technology, science, art, and culture. The Verge
  16. Gizmodo: A design, technology, science and science fiction website. It features articles on the latest news and developments in the field of technology. Gizmodo
  17. ESG News: A website covering news and developments in ESG investing. ESG News
qualitative innovation trend analysis

Patents & Academic Research

  1. USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office): The official source for US patents, trademarks, and design patents. Offers search tools, patent application information, and legal resources. USPTO
  2. Espacenet (European Patent Office): A comprehensive database of patents from around the world, including Europe, the US, and Japan. Provides advanced search features and patent family information. Espacenet
  3. Google Patents: A free and user-friendly database for searching patents by keyword, inventor, or patent number. Includes patent images, citations, and related information. Google Patents
  4. PatentSight: A platform that provides patent analytics, landscape analysis, and portfolio management tools. Offers a variety of subscription plans. Patentsight
  5. ACM Digital Library: A comprehensive database of publications in computer science, information systems, and related fields. Provides access to journal articles, conference proceedings, and technical reports. ACM
  6. IEEE Xplore Digital Library: A database of publications from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Covers topics like electrical engineering, computer science, and telecommunications. IEEE Xplore
  7. ScienceDirect : A large database of scientific and technical publications from Elsevier. Includes journals, books, and conference proceedings. Sciencedirect
  8. A repository of electronic preprints in physics, mathematics, computer science, and other fields. Offers free access to research papers before they are published in journals. arXiv
  9. Google Scholar: A powerful search engine specifically designed for academic research. Google Scholar
  10. Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ): A curated directory of open access journals across many disciplines, offering a reliable source for finding high-quality, peer-reviewed research that is freely available. DOAJ
  11. ResearchGate: A social networking site for researchers that allows you to connect with other researchers, share your work, and access research papers (some are free, others may require membership). ResearchGate
  12. CORE (COnnecting REpositories): A search engine for open access research repositories, providing access to a vast collection of research from universities, institutions, and other organisations. CORE
patents & academic research  innovation trend analysis

In-house vs Consulting Firm Innovation Trend Analysis

Traditionally, these macro research and innovation trend analysis are done by business analyst or strategic planning team in an organisation. These research and analysis can be done continuously in-house to inform OGSM plan and business decisions.

While some of the above resources are free of charge, many in-depth reports require subscription fees or additional purchases. Therefore some MNC managements will commission external consulting firms to conduct these research, one for their width of “knowledge base” and two for a “non-bias” consulting report and recommendations.

Pros and Cons compared

There are pros and cons in conducting these innovation trend analysis and research in-house or with external consultants.

The Pros of doing in-house is the knowledge of the industry and own business resources and constraint. However the Cons will be the potential bias of existing success and lack of wider perspectives beyond own industry.

The Pros for hiring external consulting firm is on their width of knowledge. Their cross-industry experience can help identify business innovation opportunities & trends from multiple perspectives. However the Cons will be the lack of in-depth understanding in real-life operation, as well as the organisational constraints that might hinder the recommendation’s execution.

AI empowering Innovation Trend Analysis

We believe all organisation should aim to build in-house Innovation analysis capabilities, especially in the era of rapid changing digital world.

With the maturity of LLM AI, it will empower internal innovation SWAT teams to quickly gather and analyse a wide range of resources and data across different industries. By combining the both the internal and external data stream, innovation SWAT’s Strategist plays a key role in identifying new trends and business growth opportunities faster and better!

Mastering the macro trend spotting is just one part of business innovation capability, next, we will also discuss how to dig deep to harvest customer insights better and faster than your competitions.

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