Interview: Trendforecasting in the Digital Age

Trend forecasting has always been a tricky game, an imperfect science that demands astute sensibilities and an intuitive understanding of consumer behavior. But even the best trend prophets have been challenged by the abrupt, at times seemingly erratic rise of trends in the digital age. We sat down with Isham Sardouk, a senior vice president of trend forecasting at Stylesight, to find out how he navigates the surplus of mediums, platforms and communicators in the digital space—and still manages to stay well ahead of the curve.

JC Report: Trends seem to come at practically at anytime and from anywhere, how do you ensure that you are on top of these movements?

Isham Sardouk: I don’t worry too much about that. We are a web-based company, and in our digital world, things move at the speed of light. It is a waste of energy and resources to try to hit constantly a moving target. You can however choose to be an actor or simply a spectator. I like to play both roles so that I can see the picture from different angles, and then concentrate on what is accurate and applicable to our clients.

JCR: Forecasters, more often than not, use anecdotal declarations to announce a trend, but how do you leverage your technology to create an accurate prediction?

IS: Our predictions are the synthesis of a tremendous amount of information that we gather and study on an ongoing basis. I like to think of our predictions as key business-to-business inspirational tools, while our technology is highly advanced and interactive. We encourage our clients to merge our content with their own ideas, thus generating individual solutions every time. We build our forecast with strategic recommendations to provide new business opportunities, increase successes and avoid costly mistakes.

JCR: What do you use to substantiate your claim?

IS: Elements from past and current forecasts, along with what is happening in the retail and manufacturing world, in the art world, in politics, in music, in design and fashion. There isn’t really a limit to where our research stops as it all varies depending on the demographics and the type of market we are addressing.

JCR: Today, what or who are the most influential enablers of trends?

IS: It’s really about the people. It’s about lots of people adapting a trend and accepting it. The broad-based acceptance of a trend is the ultimate enabler and amplifier. The real enablers are also the creators of original ideas. Ideas that can be later on accepted on a wider scale. Trends never happen overnight, and that’s what differentiates a trend from a fad. In a trend, there is always a thread that leads to something else. It is a constant evolution, and it is not something that can be isolated.

JCR: What are companies looking for from services like yours today?

IS: Our content provides everything a designer needs to assess current trends and trend forecasts to achieve effective results during the design cycle. Our mission is to provide clients involved in the creative and product development processes with useful tools that make their journeys more efficient, less costly, faster and more accurate. Our clients can expect first class content, coupled with innovative technology, specific points of view and strategic recommendations.

JCR: What is on the horizon for trend forecasting?

IS: Robotics: The haptic interfaces of robots, robots acting as humans and humans using robotic technology, leading to eventual immortality. Urbanomics: Alternative energies and the influx of urbanization, which is set to occur over the next 40 years. Additive manufacturing, and how it is slowly changing the design landscape with the influence of rapid prototyping, 3-D printing, solid freeform fabrication and fused deposition modeling. Jetpacks, capsule cars, smart fabrics and nano medicines. Webtailing, augmented realities, virtual showrooms and dream intelligence.

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