Jun 28 Technology Scanning: How to Keep up With an Ever-Changing Tech Landscape

Much of our work involves helping IT functions redefine their role within large organizations, helping them to become more agile, more responsive and collaborate more effectively across the business. We’re excited to embark on a series of blog posts that explore dimensions of this work. Today, we’re going to explore how to stay up to date with emerging technologies. 

It’s not really news that the pace of change (and disruption) is greater than ever. Internet of things, virtual reality, drones, machine learning, and other technologies are materially changing what organizations do.  And with these changes come opportunities and threats for businesses, and occasionally, breakthrough innovation. 

While keeping up with what’s happening in the tech world takes dedicated effort, identifying the trends and innovators as early as possible can be a competitive advantage. Today’s start-up will be tomorrow’s Google or Amazon.  Missing a trend or opportunity can cause companies to play catch up in their industry, or worse.

From my experience, even IT leaders can struggle to find time to keep their finger on the pulse of the ever-changing technology landscape. However, spending even a few minutes per day can make a big difference, especially with the increasing number of resources available to help both the professional and novice technology scout.

For the professional: these resources are generally fee-based (and usually not cheap – up to $100k/year or more!) leaving them accessible only to those with corporate expense budgets. If it’s within your budget, these services are loaded with valuable information about emerging technologies, the next big thing, and competitive intelligence. Here are just a few:

CB Insights, Pitchbook, PrivCo: these services come with a price tag, but depending on the use case, it can be well worth it. They include detailed company, deal and investor information for start-ups, and for other privately held companies. A service like this is a mainstay for VCs, strategic investors, and consultants, but the information can also be invaluable for corporate technology scouts. Special shout-out to CB Insights co-founder Anand Sanwal for his witty and informative daily emails. I highly suggest joining his list.

Quid: Quid is part of an exploding group of artificial intelligence services that allows users to create unlimited queries on any topic of interest. The platform uses natural language processing and scours publicly available information from a variety of sources and then creates beautiful visual maps of the content, all in about 2 minutes.

For those who don’t have thousands of dollars per month to spend, there are lots of good ways to keep track of what’s happening in the world of tech + business. I asked our team to provide a short list of go-to sources. In addition to the standards (Fast Company, Wired, The Wall Street Journal), here are some of the most valuable resources:

Crunchbase/Tech Crunch: Crunchbase is used by many as the go-to resource for basic information about tech companies; Tech Crunch is the publisher behind the database – they also put on one of the world’s best tech events, TechCrunch Disrupt.

Trendwatching: this resource covers topics that are much broader than tech; and while most of the content is reserved for paying customers, the free section has good high-level information.

This Week in Tech: a weekly podcast recorded Sunday nights that is both entertaining and informative, and a great way to start off the week.

Stratechery: a daily tech blog by Ben Thompson that focuses on the intersection of Tech+Business – full access requires a nominal subscription price.

The Netflix Tech Blog: this resource is not for the faint of heart as it has a heavy developer focus, but does a good job of explaining certain tools and tradeoffs for those who want to get into the weeds.

GOTO Conferences: these are conferences by developers for developers. Their blog has great content and free videos on a variety of topics.

Regardless of the resources, keeping tabs on whats happening in the tech space is a sign of digital maturity. Organizations that recognize this and invest in tech scouting are the ones that will not only survive this digital revolution, they’ll thrive!

Stay tuned for a follow-up piece on how companies can build more rigorous processes to increase their tech acumen, and become more responsive and agile in the face of rapid change.

Ian Campbell
Ian Campbell

As Rêve's Director of Strategy, Ian brings over fifteen years of innovation experience spanning industries and geographies, with a special interest in the medical device industry. In his free time, he can be found spending time with his wife and two kids, fishing on a lake in northern Minnesota, or both!