16 Smart Ways For Tech Teams To Stay Ahead Of Industry Trends

Technology is one of the fastest-moving industries out there. The expectation to stay on top of the latest trends creates sizable responsibilities for every tech department. It’s not about just meeting deadlines—it’s about keeping up with the speed of technology.

As new trends emerge daily, it’s important your tech team stays on top of developments. Below, 14 members of Forbes Technology Council give their best tips for staying ahead of the curve in the ever-changing technology sector.

1. Look into new tech tools used in your industry.

I encourage my team to stay open to new technology. When a sales representative reaches out to us about new software, we don’t immediately discard the email because we have another system in place. When we notice a competitor using a new tool, we look into it. By being willing to question the way things are done and look for areas of improvement, we can continually innovate and improve. - Thierry Schellenbach, Stream - Chat & Activity Feed APIs

2. Focus on tech that enables growth.

It’s important to step back and realize that it’s not always about adopting the latest and greatest technology. Instead, focus on technology that enables your business growth. Prioritize developing new features that support that new revenue stream, but do it under an upgraded modern architecture and in a way that will accelerate future platform upgrades. - Ruchi Goyal, Accenture

3. Be sure you know what your customers are looking for.

We talk to our customers and partners—a lot. We hear what their short- and long-term plans are and bake those requirements into our product backlog. We also develop and test fast. Using the “MVP” mindset, we quickly build and invest in the next generation of certain capabilities and test them in the market to see what sticks. - Chetan Mathur, Next Pathway

4. Have team members rotate in a weekly ‘show and tell.’

Every week, have one of the team members do a “show and tell” of something new they’ve seen in the industry, whether it’s a new framework, new library, new system being developed, etc. That always starts a conversation and keeps the team members looking for new ideas and developing new skills. - Jeff Rubenstein, Kaltura

5. Share news stories among the team.

Our team constantly shares articles and news over Slack. Giving employees the chance to attend user conferences and creating an open environment for knowledge sharing is critical to pushing the team to think about how to stay on the bleeding edge. We also strongly believe that the best way to evaluate new technology is to make time for a quick proof of concept. - Sanjoy Malik, Urjanet

6. Evaluate your data.

Teams should evaluate data that measure the customer experience to continuously increase value. Using automation, teams can analyze this data, categorize it and surface relevant information to quickly find solutions to customer-impacting issues. Teams that leverage this approach remain ahead of the curve because it means they can focus on innovation over remediation. - Phil Tee, Moogsoft

7. Follow industry thought leaders.

It’s important to be connected with thought leaders in the industry. Before Covid-19, this came from attending conferences, but now that attendance needs to be replaced or supplemented. I highly recommend signing up for industry newsletters and doing proactive outreach to vendors that used to sponsor conferences in the past. They are still doing great work; you just have to dig a little. - Joaquin Lippincott, Metal Toad

8. Incentivize continuing education.

Schedule ongoing training sessions around new skills and tools. A regular tech employee should know how to code as well as implement html into assignments. Once they have the structural foundation, you can add to their repertoire by funding and incentivizing their education. As a bonus, this means your company provides regular benefits and remains relevant within the tech world. - Arnie Gordon, Arlyn Scales

9. Tap into industry information resources.

Subscribe to several different sources to keep up with recent advancements in the tech industry, especially those sources that provide an expert opinion on the subject matter. Then, constantly connect your internal teams with the latest tech trends and developments they should take advantage of. - Henry Peter, Ushur

10. Develop a technical marketing team.

We always use our technical marketing team. This team engages customers, press, technical journals, etc. to understand where technology is headed and our customers’ plans. From this, they put together a marketing requirement document that is given to the engineering team, who then interprets the information and works with marketing to develop an engineering roadmap. - Jay MarshallEyeLock LLC

11. Have team members lead lunch-and-learns.

I hold weekly brown-bag sessions with the team in which one of the members talks about a new topic and educates the whole team. This session allows us to learn and discuss new trends and see how we can utilize them in our company. We also regularly share news articles and talks, and I encourage team members to attend conferences and webinars and present what they learn to the whole team. - Amit Ojha

12. Establish personal development goals for each team member.

I coach people to look at personal development in terms of swim lanes that you establish at the beginning of the year and break down to monthly and quarterly actionable items. This can be technology to be learned, soft skills to improve and/or anything in between. Growth does not happen by accident—establishing a balanced yearly plan ensures alignment and palpable results. - Danny Acuna

13. Feed team members’ passion for their craft.

Loving the craft of technology isn’t just about doing projects but being immersed in the world and driving solutions outside the office walls. Be a part of the community via Meetups or Github projects. Read what’s going on and actively contribute to the community that’s building the future. Passion for the craft is key. - Tim Kulp, Mind Over Machines

14. Give team members time to attend conferences.

It’s important to give employees time to learn new technologies even if they aren’t able to use them directly in their day-to-day work. One way to do this is to allow employees to attend conferences and share what they’ve learned with the team. This can help infuse a learning culture that keeps everyone’s skills current. - Amy Czuchlewski, Bottle Rocket

15. Stay active in the open-source community.

We encourage our developers to actively participate in the open-source community by making parts of our codebase open as well as contributing to the projects that we use ourselves. The open-source community is what starts or adopts most of the new trends, so being part of it keeps us in the loop. - Sanket Saurav, DeepSource

16. Start a study and discussion program.

Having a study and outreach meeting program will help your team stay ahead of the trends. Each team member should spend one to two hours a month reading, learning and evaluating industry-leading tech that may impact their business. Once a month, everyone brings their findings and discusses them as a team in a roundtable session with leadership, which can lead to the exploration of certain tech if needed. - Tanvir BhangooTBX Digital Inc.

This article was originally published on Forbes.com

Published by Bottle Rocket in Technology, Forbes, Trends