You can read all the reports you want. At the end of the day, the most insightful information comes from merely observing your surroundings.
If you’re a retailer, this could mean observing which bags your customers are carrying into your stores. Now you’ll know which businesses compliment your brand and which compete against it.
If you’re a social network, pick a place where’s there’s a mass collection of sedentary people and watch how they communicate on their phones. I can tell you right now from riding the train into New York every day that Facebook is still far and way the preferred way to share online, at least for adults.
Sight and vision are only as powerful as their activation. Things also need meaning in order to remember them. First you observe, then you snap and connect.
Everything around you has meaning. There are niche trends today that will be mass trends tomorrow. Data informs decisions but to see it play out live makes you smarter.