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Collaborative Trend Management

Collaborative Trend Management
Michael Durst*
ITONICS GmbH, Otto-Seeling-Promenade 2-4, 90762 Fürth, Ger-
Florian Greif
ITONICS GmbH, Otto-Seeling-Promenade 2-4, 90762 Fürth, Ger-
Lena Stößer
AutoScout24 GmbH, Dingolfinger Str. 1-15, 81673 München, Germany.
Fritz Edelmann
jameda GmbH, Klenzestr. 57b, 80469 München, Germany.
* Corresponding author
Abstract: A major challenge for innovation management is the systematic re-
cording, structuring and evaluation of trends. Trend scouting information helps
identify shifts in the corporate environment early on and enables companies to
act and react in good time. This paper introduces processes in trend manage-
ment and shows how trends can be recorded and communicated within a com-
pany in a structured manner. Trends are analysed, amongst other things, using
methods such as crowdsourcing and this expands the basis for assessment. The
approach set forth in this paper also permits trends to be visualised so as to as-
sist with decision-making and improve a company's focus. Scout24 Holding
GmbH is given as a case study to demonstrate the use of the methods in prac-
Keywords: trend management, collaboration, software, process, strategic fore-
sight, case study.
1 Commercial trend management
"Against the backdrop of increasing innovation in terms of technology and
products, it is no longer sufficient for companies to react to changes in
terms of a 'quick response'. Instead, they must be proactive in order to re-
main competitive. One must be able to respond even to weak signals and
make market adjustments and modifications in a proactive manner" [Bull-
inger & Schäfer 1997]. Missing a trend or acting too late can result in sig-
nificant competitive disadvantages for a company. Thus, the goal of trend
research is "to research and define the transformation processes of the pre-
sent" [Pfadenhauer 2004]. Within a company, trend management aims to
identify relevant trends, and record and analyse these in a structured man-
ner so that suitable implementation or observation measures, which build
upon these, may be taken. Trend researchers reach a verdict about a trend
on the basis of early indicators, the opinion of other experts and their own
judgement [Dömer & Junker 2009].
Criticism is often levied against trend research for its lack of a scientific
foundation, relying instead on experiences and personal opinions [Rust
2008]. Within a company, outdated tools such as hierarchical lists are
often used. "Social flows and technological trends are grouped together
and [...] turned into 'megatrends'. And this does not exclude over-
dramatisations or reductions" [Theis 2008]. Often, there is not just a lack
of stringent methods for recording trends, but also a lack of an overall ap-
proach to innovation management. Trend management is part of the inno-
vation process and cannot be viewed as independent of it. A tried-and-
tested multi-level model (see Figure 1) clearly shows the strategy, culture,
organisation and processes involved innovation. Trend management
should, therefore, be classified as an innovation process.
Figure 1: Components of structured innovation management [Engel 2007]
Within the innovation process, trend management serves to generate ideas.
As a result, it should be assigned to the "early phases" of innovation man-
agement [Herstatt & Verworn 2007]. During the early phases, company
needs are identified using strategic search fields. In the best-case scenario,
trend management gives rise to new ideas and innovations which become
competitive advantages in the product portfolio.
Crowdsourcing methods can also be used as part of trend management in
order to identify, evaluate and document trends. By evaluating and ap-
praising trends together across departments and locations crowd intel-
ligence makes faster prioritisation possible.
Web 2.0 provides software solutions that are suitable for establishing col-
laborative trend management. These allow trends to be recorded, struc-
tured and documented in a jointly edited wiki. A rating tool means trends
can be evaluated together; comment boxes enable commercial ideas to be
developed throughout the trend; and a complex evaluation matrix opens up
the possibility for experts to make detailed assessments of trends.
The following sections deal with the software tools used as part of the
trend management process and their integrated deployment in a trend
management tool.
2 Processes in trend management
There is a lack of methodical approaches in the literature surrounding
trend research and trend management. Presumably, this is due to the fact
that trends can be derived more easily from subjective experiences and
opinions than from a strict methodology. Fink and Siebe provide a model
for trend management processes in their Handbuch Zukunftsmanagement
Figure 1: Trend management process (created by author cf. [Fink & Siebe
Based on this model, collaborative methods can be applied to the individ-
ual process stages.
2.1 Trend identification
Whilst trend research was, for a long time, a task neglected by the board of
executives, today there are whole innovation departments dedicated to
researching issues relating to the future. Even employees, customers and
external experts are becoming increasingly involved in the trend identifi-
cation process following the spread of the open innovation approach. Ac-
tive employees and customers are the result of a paradigm shift linked to
the boom in digital communication and self-taught, participatory user be-
haviour [Zerfaß & Möslein 2009]. This has created the framework condi-
tions required for so-called crowdsourcing. The principle of crowdsourc-
ing involves transferring a company's tasks to a crowd of internal or exter-
nal resources, which will work on these tasks directly. According to Su-
rowiecki, the resultant "crowd intelligence" can be explained because
groups achieve better results than experts due to their decentralised deci-
sion-making structures, and the diversity and independence of their mem-
bers [Kortzfleisch et al. 2008].
This phenomenon can be used in the trend management process to record
trends in a collaborative fashion. Web 2.0 software components such as
comment boxes offer simple and quick opportunities to participate without
the need for any explanation or training. After a trend has been identified,
the next step is to record it using various criteria in a structured manner.
The literature mentions the following criteria: "the trend's degree of influ-
ence on the company", "direction of influence (opportunity or threat?)",
"likelihood" and "uncertainty of the trend" [Fink & Siebe 2006]. With
software-based collaborative trend management, it is possible to expand
this list of criteria to include "trend category", "affected business area"
and, where applicable, "overriding megatrend". The term "megatrend" is
used to describe particularly sustained trends which last several years and
can influence the entire corporate environment. Megatrends have the po-
tential to influence entire business models and redefine processes [Dömer
& Junker 2009]. Using a development history, it is possible to determine
who was involved in creating a trend. This aspect is particularly interest-
ing because it means the evolution of trends within a company can be
traced and shown transparently. All those involved in identifying the trend
are called upon to examine internal and external sources (desk research,
the Internet, conferences, etc.) and then input these into a form so that they
can be considered and evaluated by the crowd.
Joint tagging of trends is a further collaborative component of trend man-
agement. Tagging is where users assign simple keywords to their content
in order to make it publicly accessible as part of trend management.
Available content is enriched using meta-information in the form of key-
words, which classify the content. This gives rise to a tag cloud, with size
denoting the most common terms. As a result, this tag cloud reflects the
most relevant terms connected to the trends which have been inputted, and
at the same time it serves as a semantic navigational tool for trend man-
2.2 Trend evaluation
Collaborative trend management permits all employees and, where appli-
cable, external experts as well to analyse a trend (e.g. using "thumbs-
up/thumbs-down" or a "5-star rating"). An algorithm calculates the aver-
age rating and displays this in the trend view. Even such a rudimentary
opinion as "I think it is relevant for our company" or "I don't think it is
relevant for our company" can serve as an indicator for which trends
should be dealt with in greater detail.
2.3 Trend analysis
Following a collaborative assessment of a trend, a committee of experts
then analyses that trend in more detail. This allows selected participants to
evaluate trends on the basis of various criteria. The following criteria have
shown themselves to be helpful for making an assessment: "competitive
advantage", "customer acceptance", "fit with corporate strategy" and "fit
with business model". Each criterion can be scored on a scale of one (very
low) to five (very high). An algorithm calculates the average score and
plots this on a radar chart.
The results are then discussed by an expert committee. The next steps can
be derived from the results of the trend analysis. In so doing, Fink and
Siebe draw a distinction between six courses of action:
1. Deal with trends immediately
2. Proactively address trends
3. Be prepared for surprising trends
4. Observe trends
5. Observe and integrate trends
6. Do not commit resources unnecessarily
The various courses of action can be plotted in a two-dimensional trend
portfolio against the axes "influence on the company" and "likelihood".
The trends requiring the most action are transferred to the portfolio man-
agement department and dealt with in greater detail [Finke & Siebe 2006].
2.4 Trend reporting
One method of structuring trends and making the results of crowdsourcing
transparent is to use a visualisation tool such as a radar, referred to herein-
after as a trend radar. The aim of the trend radar is to simplify the decision
either to pursue or ignore a trend in the last phase of the trend process. Just
as with the radar screen used by air-traffic controllers, the human eye per-
ceives objects that are closer to the centre as more relevant than those fur-
ther away from it. The radar suggested here can depict four dimensions
clearly: distance from the centre, placement in a segment, size and colour-
ation of an object.
Figure 2: Dimensions of the trend radar (created by author)
For example, distance can be used to show the time frame during which a
trend is expected to occur: the centre of the radar represents the current
date (i.e. access date) whilst the outermost edge of the radar is a specific
date (31/12/2019) or the date of a trend, which is expected to occur the
furthest in the future. The radar categories are divided into segments and
these can be chosen freely and modified over time. Ideally, they should
represent the strategic search fields from innovation management. The size
of the trend object (text or symbol) can, for example, be derived from the
frequency with which its related entry is accessed. This gives an indication
of how much interest there is in a particular trend. On the other hand, the
colour can relate to an entry's rating and, therefore, indicates how employ-
ees and experts view a trend's potential. By using the trend radar, the re-
sults of collaborative trend management are visible to all users. Thus, the
trend radar is a tool to support management decision-making.
2.5 Trend monitoring
Trend monitoring serves to consolidate the key performance indicators
(KPI) in trend management. The KPI cockpit displays information which
was disseminated at the beginning in a consolidated form as KPIs.
Amongst other things, the following KPIs can be identified and displayed
as part of trend management:
Number of recorded trends
Number of trends considered important by users
Number of trends recommended for further investigation by ex-
Number of new trends identified within a particular period
Number of trend management users
Number of ratings for a particular trend
Number of trends that are expected to occur before 2012, for ex-
Trend monitoring provides results which enable better operative or strate-
gic decisions to be taken with regard to pursuing trends, making it part of
"business intelligence". By using the results achieved, companies can back
up the successes of trend management with figures and communicate con-
3 Software aids
A wiki modified to include extra components is a suitable software basis
for collaborative trend management. A wiki article is used to describe a
trend in trend management, and categories are used for megatrends. The
wiki also includes a search field, tags and segments. A rating function and
rich-text editor simplify participation when recording and evaluating
trends. Workflows can support time-controlled trend evaluation phases,
and a reporting/monitoring tool formats the data for export to the radar.
Roles and access rights can be used to differentiate between "employees",
"experts" and "moderators" within the system.
The "trend radar"
solution that is presented here is based on MediaWiki, a
piece of open-source software. The radar was designed in FLEX, and data
are exchanged between the trend wiki and the radar using XML (see Fig-
ure 4).
A test version of the solution described in this article can be accessed at
Figure 3: Collaborative trend management architecture (created by author)
The architecture described in this paper has proved successful in practice
in the following example, though other technologies can also be easily
used with the radar.
4 Case Study: Scout24 Holding GmbH
The practical example presented here is based on a project to introduce a
piece of commercial trend management software at Scout24 Holding
GmbH (hereinafter referred to simply as Scout24) in 2009. The company
was founded in 1998 and has been a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG
since 2006. Scout24 operates seven online market-places (AutoScout24,
ElectronicScout24, FinanceScout24, FriendScout24, ImmobilienScout24,
JobScout24, TravelScout24) as well as two portals ( and Local24).
It employs around 1,000 people. In mid-2008, Scout24 created a depart-
ment to oversee innovation management. The department is responsible,
amongst other things, for collating, analysing and evaluating trends, ideas
and innovations and presenting its findings to the group and individual
business areas. The short-term objectives of the innovation management
department include creating and deploying a piece of trend management
software (known as "Trend Platform"), which is supposed to systematise,
visualise and archive future trends in an engaging way.
Prior to the launch of “Trend Platform”, there were no software aids for
trend management at Scout24. Trends identified from internal and external
sources were recorded in an Excel sheet and discussed with experts from
specialist departments. Since the end of 2009, the "Trend Platform" solu-
tion has enabled trends to be recorded, edited, evaluated, searched and
visualised at Scout24. Internal and external experts can edit and evaluate
trends, and every employee has access to the platform, meaning they can
see what the future has in store.
Besides the innovation management department, third parties are also re-
sponsible for entering new trends into the system at Scout24. After a trend
has been entered, it is then rated by an innovation team as part of the first
evaluation phase with a simple "thumbs-up/thumbs-down" scoring system
(see Figure 5). The next stage of the process involves individual assess-
ments of the trends by experts drawn from every area of the business. The
average score indicates the trend's potential using a 5-star system and
forms the basis for the next stage in the process, which is reserved for
trends that score three stars or more, and are thus considered important.
These trends are evaluated by a committee of experts that discusses which
trends should be presented to management and which trend has the poten-
tial to be incorporated into Scout24's product portfolio.
Figure 4: Trend process at Scout24
The landing page of Scout24 Trend Platform provides an overview of the
newly recorded trends, the most popular megatrends, and explains the
trend process (see Figure 6).
Figure 5: Scout24 Trend Platform homepage (created by author)
The trend radar visualises the recorded trends as coloured circles in their
respective radar segments, which correspond to the strategic search fields
at Scout24 (see Figure 7). Users of the trend radar are able to filter trends
on the basis of various attributes and attribute combinations from the radar
homepage. An example filter might be: "show all trends relating to the
search term 'Social Web' which are relevant for the business area 'Market-
ing' and the online market-place AutoScout24".
Figure 6: Illustrative example of the trend radar
The launch of Trend Platform has led to significant time-savings within
the trend management process at Scout24 whilst, at the same time, im-
proving the quality of data. Trends can now be found easily using the tag
cloud whilst ratings, comments and discussions reflect the relevance of
each trend. Furthermore, by visualising trends using the trend radar,
Scout24 has an excellent reporting tool to use for senior management.
Every employee has access to Trend Platform via the Intranet, and follow-
ing the completion of a beta-phase, they will even be able to record and
rate trends.
5 Conclusions
The methodology presented in this paper is based on crowdsourcing and
aims to reduce the subjectivity associated with assessing trends by draw-
ing on crowd intelligence. In so doing, trend management is understood as
an upstream process within innovation management. Trends which are
considered relevant feed into new ideas and innovations. Every employee
can participate in the trend management process; they can discover and
learn about future trends thanks to the trend radar.
User-friendliness plays an important role within the so-called "collabora-
tive web". Only if online tools are intuitive and fun to use will they be
accepted by the mainstream. The software solution outlined here is based
on well-known components (wiki) and expands these using rating tools,
intuitive interfaces and a clear overview (trend radar). The barriers to us-
ing Trend Platform are low, and even users with relatively little experience
can use it easily. Use of Trend Platform in the medium-term will show
whether or not the culture of innovation within the company has changed
to become more open and cross-hierarchical. It also remains to be seen
whether crowd intelligence increases the quality of trends and whether
product innovations that result from trend management lead to significant
competitive advantages.
From an organisational perspective, trend management should be inte-
grated into innovation management: trends become ideas; ideas become
innovations; innovations become competitive advantages; and these trans-
late into profits. The entire innovation value chain must be modelled, or-
ganised and measured in such a way as to generate competitive advantages
in perpetuity. To achieve this, it is necessary to integrate tools, such as
those described in this paper, within the overall corporate environment:
Web 2.0 methodologies in combination with workflow and document
management systems can encourage employees to collaborate on the one
hand, and channel crowd intelligence on the other. The oft-cited develop-
ment of Enterprise 2.0 envisages employee participation via a central
online platform, which ideally replaces the classic Intranet structure on a
step by step basis. Here employees can discuss trends, products and prob-
lems, rate them, share knowledge via wikis and blogs, and connect to each
other. Every individual can collaborate easily and spontaneously in order
to improve their social status within the company and make an individual
contribution to the company's success. Collaborative trend management
can be seen as the first step along the road to Enterprise 2.0.
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... The idea2project process has the target to generate ideas from the analysis of trends and to refine and elaborate these ideas towards a research project. The main tool for trend analysis is a Trend Radar [4]. If a trend becomes sufficiently relevant and mature for the academic research team, ideas for project proposals are generated. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Academic research is promoting the free mind of the genius. The intention is to discover ground breaking findings in very early phases of the innovation process. The researchers consider their creativity to be dependent on freedom and openness. Nevertheless, today's scientific landscape is a bit different from this. Research institutions are large and many of them conduct project business. Research projects need to be planned in a professional way, research outcomes need to be achieved. A more or less professional innovation process has to guarantee a constant flow of projects and results. This is not only mandatory to finance the work of the research institution, but also due to the expectations of the society towards science. The challenge is to use professional innovation processes without destroying creativity and freedom. Ideas need to have a chance to result into a research project and a respective innovative finding. Scientists need to be protected from too much administration and restrictions. Therefore, innovation processes for academic research need to be lean, simple, efficient and effective. This paper presents ideas for such processes and tools. The focus is the early phase of transferring an innovative idea into a funding project. Results and experiences from the application in a research group focusing on applied engineering sciences are evaluated.
Full-text available
Zusammenfassung: Den Methoden der Trend-forschung – nicht nur im engen Wortsinne der Techniken der Datenerhebung und Datenaus-wertung, sondern im (diese implizierenden) wei-ten Verstande der Logik der Wissensproduktion in dieser umstrittenen Branche – gilt das Inte-resse eines geplanten Forschungsvorhabens, das in diesem Beitrag vorgestellt wird. Trend-forschung lässt sich einem ersten Zugriff nach zwischen Marktforschung einerseits und Zukunfts-forschung andererseits verorten. Kritik an dieser Art von Forschung, die Trends zum Gegens-tand hat, wird zum einen hinsichtlich ihrer Wis-senschaftlichkeit, zum anderen im Hinblick auf ihr Innovationspotential geübt. Im Anschluss an die neuere Wissenschaftsforschung ist Trend-forschung als anwendungsorientierte Forschung in einem weiten Sinne zu begreifen. Methodisch die Analyse von Dokumenten, explorativen so-wie fokussierten Gesprächen, Beobachtungen und Experteninterviews integrierend, stellt die hier vorgestellte, geplante Untersuchung am Bei-spiel der Trendforschung einen empirisch fun-dierten Beitrag zur Frage in Aussicht, wie For-schung tatsächlich "gemacht" wird, wenn sie an konkreten Anwendungskontexten ausgerichtet ist.
The term “Web 2.0”, by using a version number, suggests a misleading technological leap by characterizing a new occupancy of Internet technologies. Rather, in contrast to Web 1.0, which centered on defining and creating destinations for web users, Web 2.0 pertains to people and content. We adopt O’Reilly’s definition of the new occupancy of the Internet, as follows: “Web 2.0 is the network as platform, spanning all connected devices; Web 2.0 applications are those that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of that platform: delivering software as a continually-updated service that gets better the more people use it, consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, including individual users, while providing their own data and services in a form that allows remixing by others, creating network effects through an ‘architecture of participation’ and going beyond the page metaphor of web 1.0 to deliver rich user experiences” (O’Reilly 2005, p. 13).
Gutes Management ist bei Innovationen genauso relevant wie in allen anderen Bereichen der Unternehmensführung. Die Bausteine des A.T. Kearney-„House of Innovation“ umfassen eine strukturierte Herangehensweise, die ein systematisches Management ermöglicht. Ein wichtiger Bereich des Innovationsmanagements sind interne und externe Netzwerke, die das Wissen aller Partner einbeziehen und aufgrund ihrer straffen Prozesse vollständig nutzen können. Gerade diese wichtige Zusammenarbeit wird jedoch durch immer stärker fragmentierte Wertschöpfungsketten zunehmend schwieriger.
Für die Gestaltung von Innovationsprozessen sind insbesondere die frühen Phasen von entscheidender Bedeutung. Das vorliegende Buch gibt einen umfassenden praxisorientierten Einblick in diese frühen Phasen, die auch als "fuzzy front end" bezeichnet werden. Von Ideenquellen für Innovationen von morgen über organisatorische Aspekte bis zum Projektmanagement werden aktuelle Erkenntnisse, Methoden und Instrumente vorgestellt, die bereits in den frühen Phasen den Grundstein für erfolgreiche Projekte legen. Die Beiträge dokumentieren zum Großteil Ergebnisse der Arbeit des Forschungs- und Lehrbereichs für Technologie- und Innovationsmanagement an der Technischen Universität Hamburg-Harburg. Das Buch enthält aber auch Beiträge externer Autoren, u. a. von renommierten Wissenschaftlern wie Professor Dr. Hans Georg Gemünden und Prof. Dr. Alexander Gerybadze. Das Buch richtet sich vor allem an innovationsverantwortliche Manager sowie an Wissenschaftler und Studierende des Fachgebiets Technologie- und Innovationsmanagement. Professor Dr. Cornelius Herstatt leitet den Arbeitsbereich Technologie- und Innovationsmanagement an der Technischen Universität Hamburg-Harburg. Birgit Verworn ist dort Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin.
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Corporate Web 2.0 Applications
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