Being first to market is no longer enough
Posted Friday, December 4 2015 at 11:34
- The ability to rapidly scale a digital product or service once it has a customer base is much more important than being first.
Being first to market has for some time now been synonymous with success, and not without reason. From Ford to Nintendo, companies have found an advantage in being the first to launch new and exciting products.
But is this still the case? Does the so-called ‘first-mover advantage’ really mean as much as it used to?
If you listen to Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, the answer to these questions is a resounding ‘no’, at least when looking at the case of Silicon Valley businesses.
For Hoffman, the ability to rapidly scale a digital product or service once it has a customer base is much more important than being first. For evidence, he gives the example of Facebook, which successfully grew its businesses to a breath-taking size in just six years.
Hoffman’s view is entirely correct, but it can be taken further. To a greater or lesser extent, all businesses today are ‘Silicon Valley’ businesses in so far as technology lies at the heart of what they do.
After all, digital and mobile applications are every bit as important to, for example, a fashion retailer or restaurant as they are to digital service providers such as LinkedIn.
In the case of the fashion business they can be used to improve everything from logistics and supply chain management to enhancing customer service, while for many restaurants digital applications are transforming how customers place their orders and the way kitchens meet these orders.
Whatever the sector, it is easy to imagine ways the customer experience can be improved by enhanced web and mobile applications.
Business – and public sector organisations too – must therefore place digital innovation at the heart of everything they do in a way that allows them to continually grow and build further on their innovations.
In fact, businesses serious about competing and winning market share need to embrace a philosophy of continual innovation. They must ensure that they never rest on their laurels.
This means they should proactively look at how they can improve existing product lines and business models, launch entirely new ones, and be sure they can scale both with ease.
This all makes good sense from a business perspective, but it also begs a key question: how can businesses embed continual innovation within their organizations without incurring high costs? And how can they physically build, test and launch new applications and features at the pace demanded by modern business?
Indeed, how can businesses afford to risk all on innovations that may or may not work?