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Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A microtrend is a tendency in the direction of some phenomenon that is fairly pervasive within a given sphere of influence and lasts for a few years.

Microtrends are common to business management. A trend toward flexible workforces, for example, involves organizations minimizing their numbers of full-time employees and filling the gap with part-timers, freelancers and contract workers. The benefit of lower payroll and other staffing costs is compelling but the lack of readily accessible expertise can seem more so over time, stimulating a reversal of the trend. Similarly, trends like the results-only work environment (ROWE) and telecommuting are sometimes enthusiastically implemented but subsequently nipped in the bud because they fail to deliver the benefits that were expected.

Malware development tends to self-limiting microtrends as well. As a given trend, such as ransomware, becomes more prevalent, potential victims become more aware of the risk and better able to protect themselves. Simultaneously, security experts develop better tools for preventing such attacks. All of this means that ransomware becomes less profitable, so malware developers move on to something else.

The ability to perceive developing microtrends, through channels like social media, can yield significant competitive advantage.

Microtrends contrast with macrotrends, which are more widely pervasive and persistent over a longer time frame, and megatrends, which are global and very persistent.


This was last updated in September 2016

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