Interviews

How to compete if you don't know who your competitors are

4 min read

19 November 2015

As digitisation continues to revise the rules of business, it is getting harder for firms to identify competitors. Not only are startups popping up left, right and centre, but well-established industry leaders are expanding beyond traditional industry sectors and regions.

Executives are becoming increasingly bullish about entering new markets and growing the workforce to support that strategy. Some 20 years ago, most stakeholders would have considered this plan to be overly ambitious, possibly even showing signs of nervousness. However, with 1.46m people now employed in digital companies across all sectors of the economy, this approach is considered to be the norm – thanks to the digital economy and the emergence of business networks.

The core changes powered by the digital economy have a tangible impact; social and business networks for example, are now both ubiquitous and easy to use. When these networks are catalysed by the imminent mass adoption of low-cost sensor technology and abundant computing power, data can be instantaneously generated, processed, stored, and accessed anytime, anywhere and on any device.

In the end, the competitive value of the digital economy lies in the promise of disrupting traditional value chains to achieve the highest efficiency possible when servicing the customer.

Here are three ways the digital economy can help businesses accomplish this in a volatile market of new players:

(1) Seizing the breakdown of traditional barriers

In this new era of hyper-connectivity, companies can easily reach consumers individually, even those in far-off lands. More importantly, they have increased flexibility when accessing new suppliers that can help build the product locally to meet increasing demand. Furthermore, to manage headcount growth, highly skilled contingent labour is bringing immense value when meeting short-term demand.

(2) Embracing the proliferation of sensors and real-time analytics

It is possible for organisations to become hyperconnected without additional cost. The net result is that companies adopting digital transformation strategies are poised to win in their competitive landscape. By integrating industry knowledge with digital technology, businesses can place traditional competitors at a significant disadvantage moving forward.

(3) Accelerating the adoption of new digital technology

For a long time, most companies were trapped in different parts of a value chain that seemed to be enshrined. However, today enterprises are breaking free from these traditional constraints. This freedom brings with it the opportunity to disrupt internally and the industry as well as delivering the most streamlined way to get products and services to market.

While misconceptions surrounding digitisation still abound, such as the belief that being hyperconnected will incur large costs for companies, it is undeniable that the digital economy can offer companies a realm of benefits. Businesses can unleash unprecedented insight into the competitive landscape, innovation and alignment. Talent can be deployed more flexibly, and decision makers can find the tools and information they need to better service customers and drive desired business outcomes.

However, if a company chooses to ignore these changes, it will fall behind competitors and the result can be downright ruinous. The key to taking full advantage of the digital economy is speed in gaining the right insights at the right moment. This era of unprecedented hyper-connectivity demands a real-time enterprise if businesses wish to thrive in a volatile market saturated with new players.