In our days, companies are actively involved in scanning environmental activities more than ever before. This means that market players are in greater need of shaping scouting strategies to proactively seek, identify, and access external knowledge, skills, capabilities, and intellectual assets. We distinguish here between three pillars: technologies, trends, and startups. Even if not all identified trends or technologies are applicable to their current business needs, innovation forerunners should always be on the lookout for the latest developments to proactively address challenges as they arise.

 Pillar #1: Trends or the Market Pull

Trends (the so-called market pull) origin from specific or potential customer needs. By understanding the basic needs that are being addressed throughout trends, companies can align their products, services, and business models more reliably to markets instead of making decisions simply by looking at historical business figures and customer segmentation. Being capable of identifying changes and assessing their relevance for your business, you need a systematic way of conducting a holistic trend management. The aim is to identify, describe, and collaboratively rate trends to derive strategic fields of innovation to innovate and grow in. To understand the impact of a trend on the business environment, companies must determine the strength of change and its timing. So-called “weak signals” are the first signs of change. (Explore also: Trend Reports by Detecon)

Pillar #2: Technologies or the Technology Push
The technology push drives a lot of disruption and origins from technical inventions. Which upcoming technologies and related patents are game changers in my business? Emerging technologies enable new business models, products, and services and can genuinely expand a company’s existing product portfolio. By identifying, selecting, analyzing, and disseminating large scales of information on novel technologies and technological trends, companies can sustainably push their innovation and R&D performance.

Which internal skills do I need in order to use new technologies to my advantage? After mapping technologies with your internal capabilities, you can identify and evaluate the available or required knowledge assets for specific technology applications and uncover fields of action relevant to your business. From this point on, startup scouting proves to become a relevant factor to support a company’s innovation ability when knowledge, skills, or tools are lacking internally. Who out there already has concrete answers to the questions that we are just beginning to recognize?

Pillar #3: Startups or the fastest growing Force in Innovation Management

The startup boom in recent years forced all big players to not only observe trends and technologies but also startups intensively. One of the fastest growing sources of innovation for big companies are newly established businesses. Startup monitoring and potential future partnerships play an important role in creating disruptive products, services, and business models. Startups are much more aggressive, closer to their customers and more willing to take risks with disruptive technologies than large companies ever could. Which startups are already actively involved in certain technologies or meet the emerging needs of customers? How could your company use this knowledge for future businesses? These insights enable larger companies with lagging processes to speed up their innovation efforts and establish a sound innovation portfolio. (Watch also: Startup Scouting Webinar by ITONICS)

Innovation starts with Information not Ideas

Scouting activities of the corporate environment help companies to analyze business opportunities and risks of emerging technologies, trends and startups. Within our methodology, trends, technologies, and startups are all interconnected and influence each other. So what do you do with all of that information? How do you get from trends, technologies, and startups to strategic fields of innovation? Relevant trends in conjunction with matching future technologies and disruptive startups create a big picture defining threats and so-called opportunity spaces. This construct, which is also to be understood as an innovation field, defines an opportunity out of which new and innovative products, services or business models can emerge. Opportunity spaces form the basis for a company’s innovation strategy and future innovation portfolio. Always keep in mind: Before you start ideating and innovating from scratch, it is important to know where you want to innovate and grow by defining your most promising strategic innovation fields.

Trend and Startup Radars

Scouting, evaluating, and comparing thousands of emerging technologies and trends are a true challenge for businesses that face time and resource constraints. Therefore, having a dedicated software solution to depict and analyze trends, technologies, and startups can be a huge driver of growth. The Detecon and ITONICS Trend Radar and Startup Radar provide valuable insights into hundreds of technology and business trends, as well as startups and innovative use cases on a comprehensive platform. The radars contain cutting-edge and regularly updated content that is specifically tailored to your individual interests and industry. While certain trends can offer opportunities for organizational growth and transformation, others can pose a threat to established businesses.

An example from real life gives insight how this process can be actively assisted: within a few months, a mobile carrier company in the Middle East was able to launch a mobile health solution by partnering with a startup that provided this service. Within dozens of possible solutions, we helped by identifying the ideal match with our Startup Radar. Throughout our work we also see that startup scouting is important in areas where developments in larger organizations take much longer to be publicly known. Especially when talent is hard to find, scouting becomes a significant factor. Currently, the Radar is helping clients to identify relevant companies using blockchain technology, an area where it is sometimes extremely difficult – and requires some experience – to filter signals from noise.


Change is constant; flourishing new market possibilities, alterations of original demands as well as ever shorter product life cycles oblige companies to be more adaptable. Of course, nobody can predict the future – but companies can try to work towards it. Companies need to rapidly spot changes, weak signals, and promising future opportunity spaces in their business environment. Proceeding, they need to make first mover steps accordingly, which will enable them to acquire a significant competitive advantage in the long-term.

Learn more about the solutions that are helping innovation leaders grow:
Trend Radar // Startup Radar


Authors: ITONICS GmbH & Detecon Inc.

ITONICS || ITONICS is a leading provider of software solutions and services for innovation management. With the modular software suite, companies can collect, connect and track relevant information, inspirations, ideas, initiatives, and projects. The innovation strategy can be actively shaped and managed – from environmental scanning to trend, technology, startup and idea management all the way to strategic foresight and roadmapping. Innovation leaders around the globe such as Audi, BMW, CISCO, DZ Bank, INTEL, PepsiCo, Siemens and Total rely on the professionalism of ITONICS.


Detecon || The Detecon office in San Francisco focuses on client engagements in the Americas as well as internationally. As a leading innovation strategy consultancy and knowledge center, it focuses on digital innovation trends originating from Silicon Valley. Detecon helps clients with their digitization and innovation strategies across industries around the globe. The Detecon expertise includes innovation empowerment, digital transformation, and digital strategy. Detecon unites management consulting with great digital technology expertise and has supported customers in more than 2,000 projects in over 165 countries.

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