Monitoring IT trends is no trivial task. After all, the deluge is considerable.\n\nEvery day, single-shingle IT cognoscenti blog, tweet, and podcast their thoughts about the future of IT. Every week, vendors \u2014 the supply side of the tech community \u2014 release whitepapers and forecasts about where they think (or hope you will think) technology is going. Every month, consultancies, research firms, the press \u2014 the tech community\u2019s services side \u2014 adjust and amplify annual technology predictions. Every quarter, government agencies, think tanks, academic centers \u2014 the administrative\/regulatory side \u2014 publish thought leadership pieces about what comes next. Every year, trade associations and venture capital firms publish reports detailing how technology trends will impact specific industries, products, issues, and\/or disciplines. \n\nWe are awash in suppositions regarding technology change.\n\nIn the face of such a firehose, what are IT leaders to do regarding IT trends? It\u2019s inconceivable to keep on top of them all. And yet, keeping apprised of \u2014 and ideally, ahead of \u2014 IT trends is a key facet of IT leadership in today\u2019s era of rapid disruption.\n\nThe best way for CIOs to approach the sea of technology prognostication consuming the IT community is to recognize \u2014 and perfect \u2014 the following four key roles IT leaders should play in keeping their organizations informed of and on top of the latest discussion and debate around IT trends.\n\nCIO as trend collector\n\nCIOs first and foremost must collect and impart meaning to the IT trend informational avalanche. Old-fashioned trend analysis was watching the torpedo as it comes at you. CIOs today must act proactively and prophylactically to ensure their organization is focusing on the right trends, in the right way, at the right time.\n\nCIO as trend communicator\n\nIn his seminal work on technological forecasting, James Brian Quinn suggested that technology trend forecasting should become a daily part of the executive info-intake process much as economic forecasts, market forecasts, financial forecasts, and weather forecasts.\n\nIn our digital age in which technology trends create opportunities and can materially change competitive circumstance, I believe CIOs need to formalize the IT trend communication process \u2014 much like the President\u2019s Daily Brief. The CEO and their direct reports should receive a crisp, fit-for-purpose, regularly scheduled briefing regarding key IT trends.\n\nAt the board level, it is conceivable that IT trends should discussed at every meeting \u2014 paying particular attention to positioning and impact on key customer relationships.\n\nIn preparing the IT Trends Briefing, CIOs should be sure emphasize the relationship to and impact on organizational objectives and human motivations.\n\nCIO as trend coroner\n\nOrganizations can over-allocate, under-allocate, and mis-allocate resources to IT trend analysis. CIOs have to balance FOMO (i.e., fear of missing out) enthusiasms with realities of \u201cparalysis by analysis\u201d and strategic relevance. In the dotcom run-up I remember a cartoon with the caption, \u201cWe need to rethink our strategy of hoping the internet will just go away.\u201d\n\nThat said, a big part of the CIO\u2019s value add in the IT trend space is deciding which trends don\u2019t require immediate attention or resources. The CIO serves as a trend coroner detailing \u201ccause of death\u201d and \u201ctime of death\u201d \u2014 that is to say, why a given trend need not be pursued at this time.\n\nWhat is fascinating about IT is that a trend that is \u201cdead to\u201d one organization may be critical to another\u2019s survival, often in a different industry. For example, over the next five years there are many organizations that will not need to move aggressively on unmanned vehicles. The Department of Defense, however, already has well over 20,000 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in operational inventory.\n\nCIO as trend creator\n\nToo many in our industry view IT trends as exogenous variables \u2014 billiard-balls zooming at us from \u201coutside\u201d the enterprise. In reality IT trends reflect the wishes, needs, and dreams of ahead-of-the-curve IT professionals.\n\nIn his magisterial treatise on 500 years of technology change, Leonardo: Technology & Culture From the Renaissance to the Present, Thomas Misa argues that historical actors played a major role in \u201cchoosing and changing technologies in an effort to create or sustain their vision of the future.\u201d Misa is telling us that we are the ultimate source of IT trends.\n\nIn their provocative and compelling book Homo prospectus, University of Pennsylvania Psychology professor Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman and University of Michigan Philosophy professor Peter Railton argue that man is misnamed. We are not really homo sapiens (i.e., wise) or homo habilus (i.e., handy). What we really are is homo prospectus \u2014 a species capable of contemplating the future and considering the prospects of alternative futures.\n\nCIOs have a choice. They can be trend masters or trend victims. To be trend masters, they must stimulate the enterprise to think creatively about the future they want to inhabit and provide the tools to make it happen.