How quickly is your market changing? Bet it’s faster than you thought.
Michael Ray Hopkin points us to a great video presentation on the rate of change / growth in our society.
One of my favorites – the amount of unique information created this year will exceed the amount created in the previous 5,000 years.
Keeping Up Is Important
Keeping up with the changes in your market is important. In fact, someone has created a product that is driving the changes and defining your market. Is it your product, or someone else’s?
In our article about gaining or extending competitive advantage, we showed how product innovations cause a market to change.
Each innovation acts as a disruptive event. Within a short time horizon (maybe months, depending on your market), each disruptive event is comparably sized. As the video points out, time scales are changing – and the rate at which they are changing is increasing. Markets aren’t just changing, they’re accelerating.
Not only is it important that you innovate, but your product needs to be the one with the most recent innovation.
Pushing Ahead is Critical
The continual need / value of being the innovator that most recently modified your market leads to an obvious conclusion – you either need to be the company that is constantly redefining your market, or you need to be a very effective second-mover (a.k.a. fast follower). Everyone else increasingly gets left behind. Both strategies require that you stay on top of your market, and then innovate to move ahead.
Your Current Product
Think about what you’re working on today. Consider it relative to the changing markets and your competition. There’s a great line from one or all of (The Hustler, Rounders, The Grifters) – “If you look around the [poker] table, and don’t see the sucker – it’s you.” If you don’t think your market is changing…
Here are some products/projects I’ve worked on in the past.
- Goal: Replace man-weeks of engineering work during a sales cycle with automation that runs in a few seconds (with better quality). Disruptive. Dominated the market. Until the market reinvented itself, eliminating the need for the engineering work during the sales cycle.
- Goal: Duplicate existing [5 year old] eCommerce site with current platform that allows incremental improvements, with target to provide “same as every other eCommerce site” features.
- Goal: Consolidate data for tens of millions of customers from multiple channels, to discover market opportunities and drive business intelligence, while providing operational efficiencies that ‘pay for themselves.’
- Goal: Automate insurance agent licensing, compliance, and compensation to reduce regulatory risk while increasing incentives for agents and lowering operational costs.
- Goal: Redefine how people deal with [something I can't mention] – rethinking a common problem with a novel solution.
The first one absolutely had a great value prop, and truly disrupted the market, then the company failed to stay on top of that market, and lost it. The second one doesn’t even talk about markets. The third one could be a game changer for the company, if it can leverage the data to drive business agility. Otherwise, it is just a nice cost reduction (and some very cool, but otherwise irrelevant) technology. The fourth one drives bottom-line improvements, presenting the company with an opportunity to invest those funds in innovation. The fifth one is all about innovation, and aggressively trying to reshape the market – focusing on the ideas that will be reality in a few months, not what was done years ago. Time will tell if the product is focused on the right market, or the right problems in that market.
What about some of your experiences? How much of your career has been helping companies dominate, and how much of it is slogging along as an also-ran?