I often used a simple trick when discussing turbulent zones in any market and trying to monitor as weak signals might become trends. I check how many events have been recently going on on a quick PESTEL checklist. If more than 3 or 4 of the letters have been checked within the last few months, I know that things might be starting to move fast.

Let's take an elementary and current example: AI.

  • P (political): The White House just formally met prominent tech CEOs to discuss ethics and whatnot. Although this will achieve nothing much, AI has become a political talking point.
  • E (economics): ChatGPT now has a paying tier to access its latest version, and the White House formally announced a public investment in AI (nothing much at the scale of this technology, but the signal is loud and clear).
  • S (societal): I wouldn't know where to start. Pick any media; there's been something about AI this last month.
  • T (technological): Microsoft has started working more closely with AMD to develop AI chips and balance out NVIDIA supremacy. This is a key move, as controlling the hardware and infrastructure layer is mandatory to become a proper digital gatekeeper and achieve full-stack dominance.
  • E (environmental): Weird silence for now as nothing much has been discussed about the carbon impact of this technology when it will scale up...
  • L (legal): Italy has decided to ban ChatGPT for infringing various laws on personal data use. Not discussing if it's justified (it is) or if it's going to be effective (it won't), but it happened. Soon after, various other European countries are starting their own investigations, and Canada too.

So our quick and dirty checklist is PESTEL = 🟢🟢🟢🟢🔴🟢

Yeah, no surprise here, as with IA, we're way past asking if it's really going to take off. The trend is solid, and we'll be moving up the innovation cycle pretty fast. Watch out, though: it still means we'll go through the hype and disillusionment phases...

This is not science; it's just a cheap trick, or if you prefer, a 'heuristic.' But it does work pretty well, especially for early-stage startups involved in a tech transfer 😉

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