A CTO's perspective
Here are three simple examples of identified competitive advantages between 2015 and 2018. Examples differ in industry, type of competitive advantage, and size of business.
1. (2018) Hair salon offered a unique service that authoritative research showed was lacking in the sector – the ability to provide consultations customers felt were of value. Research showed that around only 7% of customers felt a hair consultation with a hairdresser met their needs. Yet 95% of hairdressers believed they always met the needs of the customer. The salon took advantage of this huge gap between customers’ expectations and the reality of what they were getting and used it as a competitive advantage by marketing and developing the consultation aspect of their business.
2. (2018) Global consumer goods company developed an innovation business model comprised of a collection of strategic relationships formed with innovative consumer goods manufacturers and independent R & D laboratories. The consumer goods company closed most of their in-house R&D as the collection of relationships could provide innovative products faster than they were able to develop in-house. This way the consumer goods company could stay ahead of competitors.
3. (2015) A specialist business innovation management consultancy used their pricing model as one of their competitive advantages. Authoritative research at the time showed the biggest issues businesses had working with consultants was that traditional pricing models were not transparent, the final bill very high and unknown until the end of a project, plus it excluded smaller businesses from access to the specialist services. In 2015 the agency formed and successfully tested a pricing model that overcame these issues and offer consulting on subscription. To sum up their competitive advantage is transparent pricing affordable for any size budget.
Competitive advantage is dynamic, changing continuously. As competitors become aware of your competitive advantage, they adopt it while overcoming what you are not able to offer. At this point it is no longer a competitive advantage. To stay ahead of the competition requires specialist skills and acute awareness of competitors, market trends, current authoritative research, and emerging trends. Awareness on a global scale is necessary as a result of the internet destroying geographical boundaries. This awareness requires specialist skills.