Getting ahead of the curve

With the recent advent of VoIP technology in my local market, I can’t help but wonder what kind of impact this is going to have on the local phone company. There are far too many geeks out there that can’t resist the urge to try it out. Did I sign up within days of the first out of province VoIP provider offering a local area code? You bet. Among other reasons: it’s cheaper, offers an online interface that allows me to manage my own phone system and it emails me my voicemails.

This is mostly interesting because it’s a great example of how new technology can impact a market. Does this mean that 15 years from now, much of the phone system infrastructure could be useless? Maybe. While I’m sure they saw it coming, it begs the question of what kinds of technology has the potetial to impact your company? Maybe it’s not technology, perhaps it’s a potential regulatory change or something else. At any rate, the real question is “Are you paying attention?” In every industry, the smart companies are the ones that are successful in identifying and effectively forecasting trends.

Your strategy is impacted to some degree by several forces in your market and macro environments, much of which is outside your control. What’s not outside your control is your ability to pay attention and make “Identification and forecasting of trends” to your organizational core competency list. While much of your environment is outside your control, there are many factors in your market environment which you have a measure of control over. By impacting the factors in your market environment and understanding the trends in your macro environment, you will be more likely to maintain a successful position.

3 priorities for your organizations should be:

1) Become an organizations that identifies trends, and learns to predict events
2) Use your knowledge of the “future” to get yourself ahead of your competition
3) Maintain strategic alternatives so that you are prepared to respond to trends and events in your macro and market

Getting ahead of your competitor doesn’t happen through operational excellence. By maintaining better strategic processes and thinking, you’ll put yourself ahead of the game.