“How do you understand the business or business opportunities that can be generated from the surrounding environment?”
Today we answered your question:
How do you understand the business or business opportunities that can be generated from the surrounding environment?”
Intimately knowing the individual business and the environment within which it operates, both globally and locally, combined are essential to identifying ‘good fit’ opportunities that will strengthen and drive the business forward.
The surrounding environment comprises of PESTLE or STEEPLE, that is the politics, economy, social, technologies, legislation, environment, ethics. Researching this environment regularly highlights potential business opportunities.
Knowing the specific business comes from having clearly defined business capabilities as strengths and weaknesses, which highlight which opportunities would strengthen the business and overcome weaknesses.
Today we answered your question:
A business usually has more than one strategy but for the purposes of this article the focus is on a strategic (business future) perspective.
Regardless of whether your goal is to grow your business into something or is simply a means to earn a monthly income for yourself, without knowing which you are aiming to achieve getting there will be a hit and miss affair, decision-making weak and difficult, resources may not be available when you need them, and it could take longer than necessary to get there with a trial and error approach rather than strategic. The trial and error approach historically provide other businesses with the opportunity to get to your customers before you do.
I will use the popular analogy of going on a journey to explain further.
Let’s say you decide to go on a journey. Would you immediately jump into a car and start driving? Or would you first decide on where you were going, the best route to take, the type of transport required to get there, how long it will take, do you need overnight stays, rest stops, will fuel be needed along the way? And so on.
Most of us would do the latter, that is, before setting off, decide on a destination (the goal/purpose/problem to solve), determine our preferences such travelling at low congestion times to reduce carbon emissions (guiding principles). We would precisely plan the roads to take, the required rest and fuel stops, book hotels to stay at along the way, all from the start of the journey to the destination and back (actions).
Of course, there are many analogies like the journey analogy. For example, I could have used another well-known analogy of a general planning and managing an army to win a war without fighting as compiled in “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu.
Whichever analogy is used any good strategy has these 3 key elements: a clearly identified goal/purpose/problem to solve or ,destination, guiding principles, and precise planned actions required to produce the desired ‘destination’. These three elements transformation the current situation to where it should be, what inputs are required, when, to obtain desired outputs.
But why is it so important in business? Here are five simple reasons.
Clients with established, successful businesses always ask me whether I am reading anything current and of value to their business.
Fortunately, a key aspect of my business day is to do the things business owners, entrepreneurs, managers and leaders do not have the time to do themselves. One of those activities is reading on behalf of clients because they want to know what has been done successfully already rather than waste time, sometimes years, figuring it out themselves. My clients also want to know how stay ahead of the competition rather than follow or trail behind.
I usually read peer reviewed research journal papers, books, and articles relevant to their business, business management, technology and innovation. Afterwards a summary of the key take-aways is provided together with the methods applied, new models and how it can be applied effectively and without disruption to my clients’ business if relevant.
So, here is my current reading list for the next few weeks in no specific order:
Research & Journal Papers
The role of innovation in building competitive advantages: An empirical investigation.
P. Chatzoglou, D. Chatzoudes, 2018.
Business model innovation mapping: A structured approach to a new business model.
A. Schaller, R. Vatananan-Thesenvitz, 2018.
Modelling value propositions in E-business.
A. Osterwalder, Y. Pigneur, 2003.
Sustainable competitive advantage or temporary competitive advantage: Improving understanding of an important strategy construct.
T. O’Shannassy, 2006.
Books - Leadership, strategy, personal development
The monk who sold his Ferrari.
R. Sharma, 2015.
Business is personal
P. Power OBE, 2019.
Good strategy Bad strategy: the difference and why it matters.
R. Rumelt, 2017.
(Reading for the second time)
H. Mintzberg, B. Ashlstrand, J. Lampel, 1998.
(Reading for the second time)
To answer your question, sustaining a competitive advantage is key to the success and longevity of any business of any size.
Research and real world examples show businesses that do not continuously “sustain a competitive advantage” do not survive in the long term (assuming they had an advantage to begin with). An example is Blockbusters and Netflix. Netflix adapted their competitive advantage to streaming (an emerging technology at the time) while Blockbuster did not adapt so no longer exists.
This is even more relevant today in the global digital world we live in because there are new technologies released every 12 to 18 months providing you (and your unknown competitors) with new ways to excite and entice customers over and over again. If your competitors have more exiting products/services/pricing your customers will move over to them leaving your business with lower revenue.
Be aware there are different types of competitive advantage. Technology in the example above is the dynamic kind, one of several key areas for any business of any size to find a continuous competitive advantage.
As Ginni Rometty, Executive Chairman of IBM says "You've got to keep reinventing. You'll have new competitors. You'll have new customers all around you."
If you like, you can learn more about business and technology management here.
Today I answered your question “Where can I ask people to rate my brand/domain name?”
Today, most businesses conduct continuous surveys to stay in touch with clients changing needs. I would recommend you do the same.
A survey can be one simple, targeted question for respondents to fill in rather than many, irrelevant questions. Keep it short and easy for people to complete and tell them why you are asking the question(s).
If you are looking for feedback on your brand from any source and you don’t know anyone, try joining business groups, for example, those on Facebook and ask the group members for their opinion. Remember it is just an opinion.
If you are looking for feedback from existing and potential clients, try compiling a simple survey for them to complete.
The survey should have a specific objective. For example, rather than saying ‘rate my brand/domain name’, your survey should ask questions that provide an answer to whether your brand is clear, or strong for the sector. Be specific about what you are trying to find out. By doing so it will guide you to ask the right questions. For example, ask whether the colours or name are offensive.
Use a combination of positive and negative questions for balance. Ask for additional comments too. Try asking closed questions requiring a yes, no, answers and make sure your questions are not worded in a leading way that forces the participant to give you the answer you want to hear.
You could, for example, ask respondents to rate the effectiveness of the brand on a scale of 1 to 5 or rate the impact of the brand from a negative impact at -5 to a powerful positive impact at +5. Do not ask the respondent for personal details as you don’t need them to determine your brand rating.
I use SurveyMonkey because it forces you to keep to a few questions keeping things relevant, and it collates the responses for you in graphic form making it easier for you to see the results which inform your decisions going forward.
#toodglobal #smarterbusiness #competitiveadvantage #CTO #surveys #feedback
Today, I answered your question:
“What are the common business strategy mistakes?”
Four common mistakes I have come across in businesses formulating strategies are:
Richard Rumelt’s book “Good strategy, bad strategy” is an old but good read and discusses in length about what is a good strategy and what is a bad one, and why template-based strategies are so bad.
“How does a company develop the culture of the business? Is it something that is planned or eventually forms as the business grows and develops?”
The following is from a contemporary technology and business innovation/change management perspective.
Elliott Jacques’ (1951) defines culture as the “customary and traditional way of thinking and of doing things, which is shared to a greater or lesser extent by all [...] which new members must learn, and [...] accept, in order to be accepted into service in the firm”.
In simple terms this definition suggests that the culture is planned and established when the company is set up, such as the logos, titles, as well as the business and power structure. For example, does the company use processes to control staff or rules? Is the company hierarchical (top-to-bottom) where the top man sets the core belief system, or is it horizontal where all staff play a vital part? Culture is often expressed as “the way we do things here” so includes accepted rituals, norms, values, acronyms whether set by management, influenced by staff, or both, over time.
Today, companies are redefining their culture, strategically expressing and using their culture as a dynamic (changeable) competitive advantage, a tool that sets the company apart from competitors, and entices loyal customers and quality staff with the ‘matching’ mindset. That’s why, today, we see an abundance of statements such as “People over process” (Netflix, 2020), or, “Move fast. Be bold. Be yourself (Facebook, 2020). So, a modern company’s strategy is one that embraces and plans for ongoing culture statement changes with the times, to always remain fresh, relevant and enticing.
Companies are also changing their cultures completely to ensure longevity. IBM are an example of successful cultural change from black suited, rules orientated, to the dynamic company it is today. The IBM story makes good reading.
If you are currently looking at adopting a popular business model, whether it be for a new business idea or innovating or updating an existing business, a strong strategy would be to familiarise yourself with today's popular business models. Then adopt one (if possible) that will be widely adopted over the next 5 years. That way you can get ahead of your competition. Here is some useful information and a resource to get you started:
A strong, precise business model(s) can be a powerful tool for innovation, competitive advantage, decision-making, and culture development. Business models (BM) can either be explicit, written/drawn out, or implicit, unspoken/ undocumented, yet no less powerful. A business model can be a graphic, template, or text heavy document in the form of a business plan. Often businesses have more than one business model (BM). For example, a business may have one BM for each of the following:
Building and developing strategic partnerships
There are over 50 types of BM’s that most businesses fall into (Gassmann et al, 2014). Some of the most common today are:
Freemium (18) - use some of the service for free, upgrade for additional functionality;
Subscription (48) - pay a monthly fee starting at an affordable price point with the option to increase or decrease over time;
E-commerce (13)- sell products/services online;
Performance based (38) - the client pays on results.
St Gallens Business Model Navigator (Gassmann et al, 2014)
To succeed in any business environment a business requires both core and dynamic capabilities. Our focus here are dynamic capabilities, the ability to learn, apply the learning skilfully to adapt quickly.
Dynamic capabilities are necessary because the business environment is never static, it changes constantly, so a business needs to adapt with it. I like to use the athletics race analogy. Imagine a 100 metre race. A runner bursts off the start line as the gun goes off, immediately striking and maintaining a steady, strong pace, never changing, even when competitors pass by on the track. Who will get to the finish line first? Like the runner, without adaption the business becomes stagnant, and competitors who are adapting, pass by reaching the customer first.
From a technology and innovation perspective, the need for adaptability stems from technology advancements. In today’s environment advancements occur every 18 months. Advancements mean a new set of competitors offering new, more convenient, more enticing and exciting ways to interest a finite number of customers. New technologies have removed geographical borders, so competitors are global, and therefore, are unknown, compared to previous years where competitors where more local, easier to recognise and keep an eye on. As Jack Welch, retired CEO for General Electric, said “ An organisation’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage".
So getting ahead, and staying ahead, of the competition requires, robust competitor and business environment research that informs a good strategy, and which dynamic capabilities to develop. Here are 3 common dynamic capabilities using Zoom under COVID as an example where a thorough simple STEEPLE/PESTLE analysis can help identify changes and new opportunities.
1.Business contextual factors
Zoom has flourished due to the global need for video conferencing for communication. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/jun/03/zoom-booms-as-teleconferencing-company-profits-from-coronavirus-crisis
Zoom application and infrastructure was in place when the world needed it, was easy to set up and use, and low cost. Entrepreneurs recognising the trend early have developed alternative applications that offer all the things Zoom doesn’t offer. Megatrends can also help identify ‘sub’ trends sprouting from the megatrend. For example, online video teaching, though around for quite a few years already, has exploded recently.
In both the examples above businesses have used technologies to grasp opportunities in delivering a service to satisfy the demand of the consumer.
Develop the capability to stay up to date, and recognise changes, in these 3 dynamic areas, then apply your findings to your advantage, to get ahead, and stay ahead, of your competitors.
Earlier today we received notification informing us we were the most viewed Quora writer in the topic of Innovation Management.
Mulgan (2007)  describes innovation as “new ideas that work”. Social innovation can refer to innovation in interactions and relationships. It can also refer to innovation aiming to overcome a social need rather than a market need. Here we focus on the latter.
Social innovation ecosystem can occur across a national, regional, global scale, across sectors, organisations, and entrepreneurs. As technologies advance, new opportunities for any individual, organisation, or company to innovate, to find new ways to do old things, arise, often providing solutions to social problems. And, of course, lets not forget that without society social innovation would not be required.
In recent times it has become very expensive for organisations to have their own in house R & D department. Technology has provided a platform for global collaboration. Together, innovation can happen faster and produce more effective innovations than any one company can produce. In addition, the availability of funding for innovation and product development is often directed at solving pressing social needs.
Here is one practical example of how innovation addresses social needs from The Alzheimer's Society:
Lewis’s grandmother Pat has reduced cognitive function as a result of Dementia. Pat forgets to drink, or does not enjoy, water throughout the day, as a result of the reduced cognitive function. The result is dehydration for which Pat needs to be hospitalised. How can dehydration be prevented, or at least reduced so that Pat can continue to live a full, independent life?
Possible social solution:
Because Pat enjoys sweets, Lewis has developed large sweets called JellyDrops that are 90% water. Pat can eat as many as she wants, whenever she wants. Pat can place jars of Jellydrops throughout the home in every room. The bright colours attract attention, look tasty, so encourage regular consumption. The more consumed the less chance of dehydration.
This solution can be easily distributed across society at low cost supporting everyone with a similar problem.
 Jelly Drops sweets to tackle dehydration in dementia
Most innovations are build on what already exists. Very few are inventions. The definition of innovation according to BIS (2012), is “innovation is the process by which new ideas are successfully exploited to create economic, social, and environmental value.”
In today’s business environment all businesses are developing the internal capabilities to innovate their products/services/processes dynamically and continuously. The capability is a necessity born out of the exponential growth of technological developments. New technologies are developed every 18 months (Moore’s Law). So most business are innovative. Those that have not adapted by developing this capability have closed, are closing, or have bought smaller, more innovative companies.
Here are a few household names who innovate services/products/processes since around 1995:
Air BnB (holiday accommodation),
IBM (their business model)
Procter and Gamble (their innovation business model)
Amazon (online books, Cloud services)
Elon Musk (space travel, electric cars)
Facebook, You Tube, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp (social media apps)
Boston Dynamics - Google (robotics)
Google - (machine learning)
Ebay (online auction).
These are examples of how companies formed through skillful application of technologies to create new products/services/processes/business structures valuable to new and existing markets.
The short answer is that until the start of widespread technology adoption around 2008, small businesses had the upper hand in many ways. Examples are:
To survive businesses have employed skilled CTO’s over 10 years to adapt their business. Here are a few:
The question implies you are a business owner trying to adapt your business to Google Sites.
Try approaching this question the other way around.
In other words, start by working out the optimum workflow and processes from your customers perspective. Then adapt Google sites (or any other software) to your business. If Google sites can’t be adapted, choose another app that can.
Doing it this way around provides all the answers you need.
The definition of innovation, according to BIS (2012), is “innovation is the process by which new ideas are successfully exploited to create economic, social, and environmental value.”
So the new idea/innovation is not enough on its own. Rather it is part of a much larger process that contributes to the innovation being successfully adopted by users.
In fact, the innovation is the outcome of things such as:
From a CTO Technology Management perspective, companies are looking at ways to change their business to survive and thrive in a dynamic business market and to recover from the effects of COVID 19.
Technological advancements have changed the way we live and work from available devices and products, how we communicate, how business is managed and conducted, the way services are delivered, business structures, and what makes a business competitive, for example.
Therefore, companies are looking to innovate from within.
In particular, areas within the business that can be easily adapted to these changes, not once, but continuously, alongside ongoing technology advancements. Business models, service delivery, pricing models, knowledge, culture, technologies, management approaches, are some of the areas within an organisation that can be adapted for stronger competitive advantage. Without adapting in this way a business lags behind others in their sector, the worst case scenario being closure.
Here is the example in action.
The explosion of surveys and reviews companies are asking their customers to fill in over the past few years is collated, analysed, and decisions are made on what to adapt within the business. This is one simple example of how companies are capturing and using internal knowledge to inform their next move, a move that puts them ahead of competitors. As customers evolve and buying habits change, so, too, will the company’s products, service delivery, and product range, etc, because of the knowledge accumulated from these surveys and reviews.
As Ginni Rometty, ex-CEO of IBM said "You've got to keep reinventing. You'll have new competitors. You'll have new customers all around you."
In the current business environment, the best way to deal with customers who can’t afford your service is to be creative with your pricing model and come up with a solution that they can afford or at least a win-win situation.
Here is an example.
Netflix offers a subscription you can get out of at any time. The monthly subscription is easier for everyone to pay rather than a lump sum. They also offer different levels of subscription so subscribers can make a selection based on what they can afford and feel the service is worth to them without going down the illegal download route. A win-win situation.
Another example is Microsoft Office. A few years back many Microsoft users could no longer afford to purchase software as a once-off payment. The high costs encouraged piracy or adoption of open source options causing significant losses for Microsoft. A win-win situation today is Microsoft offering their up to date software on an affordable subscription basis.
“Jack Welch said, “An organisation’s ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage”. What does it mean?”
The current business environment changes every 18 months as a result of technological advancements. Technology advancements create new ways to deliver services (e.g. Netflix streaming films rather than dvd’s), creates new types of products (VoIP phones rather than analogue lines), and new ways to deliver value to customers (convenient e-commerce rather than in store shopping).
So a key capability each organisation should have is the ability to adapt every 18 months using new technologies to keep them competitive. However, not all aspects of a business can be changed.
For example, changing the culture of a business is tricky, time consuming (longer than 18 months) and seldom successful (IBM is an example of a successful culture change).
One area an organisation can be adaptable is in effectively and efficiently collecting, analyzing and skillfully using relevant knowledge from within the organisation. A simple example we see everywhere is asking customers for feedback on the product/service/process as they have experienced it. The feedback can be used to enhance the organisation and increase the customers satisfaction dealing with the organisation. This translates into a loyal, happy customer who will think twice about leaving for a competitor. This is an example of what Jack Welch meant when he said “An organisation’s ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage”.
Organisations often use external experts to manage this aspect or to develop the capabilities within the organisation as it requires expert skills.
Joseph Schumpeter’s research, a world renowned economist from the early 1900’s, shows that with each technological advancement comes great entrepreneurial opportunities. We have seen that occurring in our own lives recently with digital technology. Amazon, Netflix, Google, Uber are current examples of businesses that would not exist without digital technologies. Like every technological advancement there are both positive and negative effects.
For example, the above services have enhanced people’s lives tremendously by creating the opportunity to buy cheaper transport, books, and provided more convenient ways of delivering a service such as providing instant access to unlimited information. One of the negative sides, however, is we give away some of our privacy to enjoy those services.
Digging deeper the fear new disruptive technologies bring is often the fear of change and the uncertainty rather than fear of the technology itself. Once we identify our personal fear of change we can manage the fear and prepare ourselves for new technologies by learning about the positive and negative aspects going forward.
Hello, from a CTO’s perspective, to stay up to date, know which new opportunities to integrate into the business, clients employ specialist CTO’s (Chief technology officers) on a full time basis, on contract, or on affordable subscription. CTO’s are practitioners of innovation. Current research shows that the demand for highly skilled chief technology officers (CTO’s) is growing exponentially across all size businesses. Modern CTO’s stay up to date with emerging technologies, the benefits they may provide for the business and additional value for clients that give the business a competitive advantage.
CTO’s have usually studied at postgraduate level, regularly complete relevant courses each year to stay up to date with forthcoming changes in technologies, business management, and legislation. In other words, its a full time job for a practitioner of innovation. Hope this helps.