Knowing your strengths and those of your competitors is key to setting up your own business. An obvious no-brainer. But what counts is that unique offer distinct from the competition. That’s where the concept of competitive advantage comes into the picture. The challenge lies in offering services that are distinct enough to sustain your market position.
Since the advent of digital technology, having a proper strategy and technical infrastructure for business processes and marketing was and still is considered to be an advantage. But the evolution in technology has stepped up the game. Technology, needs to be embraced as an integral part of any business and a necessity to thrive.
So the question that hit me was, can we consider technology as a source of competitive advantage?
Tricky. But, yes and no.
Yes, mainly because its a need rather than a luxury for a business. It translates itself into a lifeline commodity for the benefit of any business. And a no, considering certain conditions, it can be made as a competitive advantage, that is not an absolute source but rather an integral part of a business strategy.
Let’s quickly take a look at what is competitive advantage and the significance it has in the digital infrastructure and marketing.
Simply put, competitive advantage is what you have and offer to your customers that your competitors don’t have YET. But if they are able to decode your strategy and replicate the same in their company’s system, you lose that competitive edge. It simply renders to be another industry benchmark. This translates into better pricing, better product or service quality where customers are at a greater benefit, generating better business than the others.
Competitive advantage over time
The evolution of competitive advantage was marked by forms and strategies over time. No strategy has maintained that edge in the long term except the concept of competitive advantage itself. It’s like ‘change never changes’. Each and every once celebrated edge would become the norm of the industry. So maintaining any advantage is challenging. During the 1800’s and early 1900’s, it was vicinity and approachability that contributed to business’s competitive edge.
In the course of time, discoveries by companies and various electrical and electronics pronounced very much. It’s no secret that Japanese automotive companies like Toyota and Nissan expressed their competitiveness in capturing the market with their manufacturing efficiency.
Giants like Apple, Microsoft have made their presence felt through their series of innovative products propelling them to their current market position. I would like to call it the silicon era which paved way for a global knowledge economy. Today, information is power, which is nothing but the data-aided decision-making that enables the competitive advantage to players.
But key elements that stand out in the trends of competitiveness are ‘innovation’ and the end product called technology. But looking deeper, d0 these key elements just come out of an act of wand? Not really. It is people and the culture of the organization that has encouraged all the stakeholders to work for the common purpose of innovation and embracing technology. Now you know, the people and the shared vision of an organization are the complimenting factors for sustaining competitive advantage along with innovation and technology.
Embracing technology as a source of competitive advantage
Digital marketing includes initiatives starting from web platforms, applications and marketing activities that cater to audiences via devices like mobile, tablet and PC. To reach the right audience and in particular the tech-savvy, having digital marketing as part of a holistic marketing effort is essential.
Competitive advantage through digital marketing is possible with a well thought-out strategy of a best product offering along with other success ingredients. Those success ingredients are innovation and agility in embracing technology.
Innovation, your fingerprint
Innovation is a key of every business. Cliche for many, but has it lost its sheen? No and it never will, because it is the pulse of any development. From the entry level to high, it’s important to set a company culture where proposing ideas and creativity are encouraged. Whether it’s an in-house innovative project resulting in a new product or a tweak in an existing product or system, innovation clearly propels sustainability.
A common question that arises is, if all companies have innovation as their strength, creating a common benchmark, where is the question of competitive advantage? To that, you should understand that there is a unique value through innovation almost like a fingerprint that can never be similar. You or a company’s collective wisdom breeds unique value offers or ideas that prove impossible to replicate.
Inspire through education
Motivate and boost job satisfaction levels by offering education on competitive advantage and creating scope for research and development that kills monotony. This method of honing employee skills is a strategic step towards employee engagement and productivity. This continuous learning keeps your resources updated, passionate contributing to that edge your company may have over others.
Technology, a lifeline
Constant innovation and learning spanned across any organization, offers less resistance in embracing any kind of change. Change management is not just a short term implementation but a way of living in the digital era. Embracing technology whether in terms of building a technical infrastructure or in managing your communications through digital marketing, is an essential success factor for any business today.
In its entirety
So, gaining competitive advantage is in accepting the fact that your strategy is your fingerprint which is unique to your organization culture. With a creative and friendly atmosphere, it is possible to attract and resonate positive vibes across your organization. In fact, your organization’s individuality itself can be your competitive advantage. Remember, competitive advantage is a journey and not a destination.
Great days ahead!